Nationals still trying to lock up Soriano
Team officials hoping to secure extension for franchise player
LOS ANGELES -- With a little more than two days before the trade deadline, the Nationals are still trying to sign Alfonso Soriano to a contract extension, MLB.com has learned.
According to two baseball sources, some members of the Nationals' think tank don't like the trade offers for Soriano. As one person put it, "We would lose our jobs [in the future] if we made some of these deals."
The White Sox, Yankees, Tigers and Angels are the front-runners for Soriano's services. A baseball source also said recently that the Cardinals, Dodgers, Mariners and Athletics have also entered into the mix. The Nationals want young Major Leaguers and young prospects in return for Soriano.
In the meantime, according to the sources, the Nationals are hoping that Jose Rijo, the special assistant to the general manager, can convince Soriano to sign an extension with the club. Rijo and general Jim Bowden were not available for comment. It's not known how much money is being offered to Soriano.
Team president Stan Kasten said last week he already has had talks with Soriano's agent, Diego Bentz, but wouldn't elaborate any further. A source had said the Soriano camp didn't want to negotiate until after the season.
Soriano said after Saturday's loss to the Dodgers that there was still plenty of time to sign a deal.
"I'm going to focus on playing baseball. They know what they have to do. If they have numbers, they have to talk to my agent, not to me," Soriano said. "We are waiting for the numbers. If they don't do it now, they are thinking in the future, because we have plenty of time. I don't know what they think. I want to play baseball."
Asked he was surprised that he was still a member of the Nationals, Soriano said, "No. Why do you think I want to stay? I want to stay."
Soriano acknowledged that he is looking forward to getting the next two days out of the way.
Acquiring Soriano from the Rangers has turned out to be the steal of 2006. He is arguably the best all-around player in the National League, hitting .289 with 32 home runs, 64 RBIs, 26 stolen bases and a career high .365 on-base percentage.
Soriano also has been decent with the glove in left field, collecting a Major League-leading 13 assists.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.