The Cubs are tired of Alfonso Soriano and have been looking to move him for more than a year. He has an incredibly high contract based completely on his high level of production year after year. The Cubs know they have no chance to compete during the rest of the length of Soriano's contract (through 2014) and would love to save a little money by dropping some or all of the last $36M owed to him. The Cubs would much rather use that $18M a year for more productive causes and give Soriano's at bats to players that could actually be on the team when the should be back in contention in a few years.
Soriano would be a perfect fit for the Tribe. He is a veteran, a power hitter and a left fielder. He also has a lot of postseason experience, playing 44 games between the Yankees and Cubs. He has had over 40 extra base hits every single season that he has had more than 50 at bats, a time spanning from 2001-2012. This includes last season when he hit 33 doubles, 32 home runs and knocked in 108 runs. When compared to all Indians hitters in 2012 he would have lead in home runs, RBI, slugging percent and OPS.
The Cubs may be interested trading with the Indians in this situation when they may not normally for the case of the salary dump. Just a few months ago the Red Sox traded all of their high talented, expensive players to the Dodgers in a move that freed up hundreds of millions of dollars. The Marlins also just dumped a lot of salary, moving closer Heath Bell and short stop Hanley Ramirez. While the Indians would be unable to take on all of Soriano's salary, they could make up for a large part of it with prospects, especially the young pitchers in Akron and Columbus. The Indians were willing to trade their best starter in Akron (Stephen Wright) for a journeyman AAA first baseman (Lars Anderson), so they can't say they value anyone else in the system too highly.
The Indians are ready to win now, despite what one bad month made the 2012 season look like. Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera are reaching the end of their time under team control and Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley are all heading into what should be career seasons. If the team was better, they might not have to spend very much to compete, but the fact is there are still problem areas. Trading for Soriano would fill one of those holes, allowing the team to put more focus on the starting rotation. With Soriano in left, finding a powerful DH or first baseman would no longer as big of an issue, although that doesn't mean they should stop looking.
If the Indians do make a move for Soriano, they should offer to pay for no more than $24 million of the remainder of his salary. This is about what he would deserve if he was in the free agent market now, and would allow the Indians to pay the majority of his salary while not being stuck with the whole thing. Soriano does have a full no trade clause in his contract, but has stated that he is willing to go to a contender. With the new addition of Terry Francona and a renewed sense of urgency, the Indians can hopefully convince Soriano that they are just one power hitting left fielder away from their next Central Division title.