Alfonso Soriano got the day off Wednesday, but Cubs manager Dale Sveum says he wants him to start in left field for him in the team's next game.
``No question about it,'' Sveum said when asked about his desire to have the almost-traded outfielder back for at least another year. ``To have 32 home runs and 108 RBIs and to play left field like he has with the speed and the legs he has, he's done a great job.''
Soriano finishes the season at .262 with a career-high RBI total and his highest home run total since he hit 33 in his first season with the Cubs (2007), along with an .821 OPS.
He also finishes the season just three months shy of his 37th birthday and under the final two years of a mega-contract that has $36 million remaining.
The Cubs tried to trade him near the July non-waiver trading deadline, but Soriano used his no-trade rights to nix a deal with San Francisco. And he still says he has no desire to go there, or any of a number of other teams out west, largely because of the geography and the weather.
On the other hand, his trade value is particularly high heading into the off-season -- ``as high as it can be,'' Sveum said.
The Cubs don't have another player with even half the number of home runs as Soriano this year, nobody within 30 RBIs, and they're expected to use most of whatever they set aside for free agents on pitching.
``He's been our cornerstone as far as run production,'' Sveum said. ``The replacement value of that is very difficult to find.''
The Cubs will almost certainly shop his value this winter, but even if they find a taker - and one that's OK with Soriano - they'll still likely have to pick up a sizeable portion of his salary in any deal.
For his part, Soriano likes Chicago, the manager and coaching staff, and he likes what considers a positive direction the club is moving - even if he knows a competitive team could be years away.
``I have two more years, and then maybe I retire. I don't know,'' Soriano said. ``I just want to have one more shot to go to the World Series before I retire.''
Soriano was a rookie with the Yankees during their World Series defeat to Arizona in 2001, and also played for the Yankees' World Series team that lost to the Florida Marlins two years later.
The seven-time All-Star was on three other playoff qualifiers, including two with the Cubs.
``I don't even think about [whether I come back next year],'' he said. ``I have two more years with them. I don't even think I'm not coming back with the team. I want to come back and try to win some World Series here.''