Thursday, March 23, 2006

Alfonso Soriano Remains on the Block

The Washington Nationals for more than 10 days frantically tried to find a trading partner to take $10 million man Alfonso Soriano off their hands, fearing he would refuse manager Frank Robinson's order that Soriano move from second base to the outfield. Soriano has at last acquiesced, diffusing the stalemate, but the trade talks have continued if for no other reason than their own impetus. A key focus of the talks is the Chicago Cubs. Chicago is offering minor league pitching prospects, perhaps those in the category of Rich Hill, a lefty who struck out 92 batters in 65 innings at triple A last year. But the Cubs want Washington, whose ownership group may be disclosed as soon as the end of the month, to pick up part of Soriano's $10 million contract, plus take 33-year-old Todd Walker and his $2.5 million contract. Washington, however, already has Daryl Ward and Robert Fick, both of whom have similar offensive profiles to Walker. Meanwhile Robinson has clarified that Soriano's spot as leadoff batter will be discontinued once the season starts, and that Soriano will remain in the outfield even if 2B Jose Vidro is injured again. The Mets and the Angels are also thought to still be negotiating for the services of Soriano.