Alfonso Soriano still a Cub -- for now

Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday that it's unlikely Alfonso Soriano will start the season with another team, and he also said there could be discussions about locking up Matt Garza to a long-term deal.

Soriano, 36, has been the subject of trade rumors, which intensified once Hoyer and team president Theo Epstein took over in October. The new regime parted ways with Aramis Ramirez and ate a chunk of Carlos Zambrano's deal to trade him to the Miami Marlins. The next logical step seemed to be shipping off Soriano, but the remaining three years and $54 million on his contract could make that difficult.

"I think that's unlikely (that he'll start the season with another team)," Hoyer said on "The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show" on ESPN 1000. "Our hope certainly ... I know Sori's been working really hard this offseason ... our hope is obviously you want him to get on base a little more. The power was there last year, the RBIs were there. Obviously it really comes down to defense and we're hoping with some better conditioning and some better health, that he can be a little better out there.

"We don't want to do anything to hurt our pitchers, but we do believe there's something left in Sori."

The future is brighter for Garza, who avoided arbitration with the Cubs by signing a one-year, $9.5 million deal on Feb. 3.

"It was a long (arbitration) process, but we talked to Matt a number of times since and we're happy we didn't have to go into a hearing room with him," Hoyer said. "He's a great pitcher and a guy we're going to talk to him about being part of our future, for sure. We need more guys like Matt, not less, and if we can work something out we'll certainly have those discussions."