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Thursday, January 5, 2012
Alfonso Soriano next Cub to go?

ESPNChicago.com

Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein emphasized on Thursday that Alfonso Soriano remains a valuable offensive asset, but Epstein also left the door open to the type of move that led to Carlos Zambrano being shipped to the Miami Marlins earlier in the day.

Hours after the Cubs announced the Zambrano move -- a transaction that included the Cubs absorbing $15 million of the $18 million owed Zambrano in 2012, according to a source -- Epstein said he would pursue another trade if it made sense moving forward.

Part of that equation could be how much of Soriano's contract the Cubs would be willing to pay. Soriano, who turns 36 on Saturday, is owed $54 million over the next three seasons.

And like Zambrano, Soriano has a full no-trade clause.

"He also hit 26 home runs and drove in 88 runs last year," Epstein said. "He's a valuable offensive player, so it's our responsibility as an organization to work with him and to get the best out of him.

"At some point in the future, if there's a transaction that makes sense with any of our players that puts the Cubs in a better position moving forward, we are going to pursue it. But in respect to Alfonso, he has power and is an offensive contributor. We can work with him to get the best out of him and see where that takes us."

It would appear Soriano would have the most appeal to American League teams as a designated hitter. The Cubs talked to at least eight AL teams over the last six weeks about a deal for Soriano, according to ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine, who also reported the Los Angeles Angels appeared interested before signing Albert Pujols.

ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine contributed to this report.