Soriano's 14 home runs since mid-May should draw interest (but isn't)

Why is Cubs slugger Alfonso Soriano so unpopular on the trade market?

Since the middle of May he's hit 14 home runs (that's all the ones he's hit this year), making him one of the most productive sluggers in the big leagues over the past month and a half. Yet, it seems no one is ever showing interest.

It's time for the Cubs' left fielder to go to another team. But which one? (One guess is below.)

"They could trade him if they paid ($44 million of the $46 million) on his contract,'' one rival GM surmised.

The Cubs are willing to pay a very substantial portion of Soriano's deal or take back comparably "bad'' contracts to make a deal. yet, it never seems there are any takers.

Soriano's $136-million, eight-year contract runs through 2014. But the Cubs aren't unrealistic about the need to pay down most of it.

The Cubs got a jolt recently with the promotion of slugging first baseman Anthony Rizzo, whose ascension forced Bryan LaHair into the outfield. The Cubs also may want to call up top outfield prospect Brett Jackson sometime this year.

The bigger issue may be that Soriano, an outfielder for the Cubs, is seen as a DH by most. But realistically, a lot of teams have left fielders who are weak defensively. Soriano is actually OK on days his knees feel OK, but that's not every day anymore.

Soriano also is no problem in the clubhouse. While he has a no-trade clause, he's likely willing to waive it for a contender. Soriano has been booed lately by Cubs fans for a perceived lack of hustle (he isn't always the quickest out of the box).

One scout suggested the Tampa Bay Rays, who have struggled offensively this year. The hitter the Rays really need is recovering star Evan Longoria, everyone agrees.

But Soriano, who has 45 RBI to go with a .270 atting average, might help too. The Rays aren't exactly flush with cash, of course, but Chicago isn't expected to be unreasonable.

Hideki Matsui has been manning the Rays' DH spot lately, but he's batting .160 with just two home runs and six RBI in 75 at-bats so far. "I know he's a great guy, but he doesn't look too good so far,'' one scout said.

The lefty-hitting Luke Scott just returned from the disabled list, but he can play the outfield. So if Matsui's struggles continue, maybe one ex-Yankee could replace another in Tampa.

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