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Nationals pursue Sammy Sosa, may trade Alfonso Soriano

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After offering a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training, the Nationals have upped their offer to Sosa with an incentive-laden, big-league deal. Unfortunately, none of the money is guaranteed, which would allow the team to cut him free if he tanks in spring training.

Sosa is apparently hoping to garner a guaranteed deal, but this appears to be the best (read: only) offer on the table. Considering he hit just .221 with 14 dingers for the Orioles last year, fantasy owners will likely want to avoid Sosa at all costs if he lands in DC, as RFK Stadium proved to be one of the biggest pitcher's parks in the game last season.

If he does agree to the deal and makes the team, the Nationals will suddenly have a crowded outfield, at least if you're penciling in Alfonso Soriano to handle left field. But since Soriano still insists he won't play the outfield and has indicated that he'd like to sign with an American League team once he becomes a free agent next year, might Washington be prompted to trade him before he ever dons a Nationals cap?

That's what Dave Van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune seems to think:

Here's the shortened scenario that would involve the Cubs:

Sosa proves in the spring he still has something left in his 37-year-old body, making the Nationals' Opening Day roster for about $1 million guaranteed. That would fill the outfield spot presumably taken already by Alfonso Soriano, who then might be expendable.

The Cubs long have had an interest in Soriano, but Washington came up with a better trade offer from the Rangers over the winter. So Soriano, a career second baseman, was dealt to the Nationals and promptly installed as the probable left fielder. He continues to insist he will not play the outfield, creating a National problem because Jose Vidro is their second baseman.

Either Soriano or Vidro might have to go if Sosa makes the team and it probably would be Soriano, who will make either $10 million or $12 million next season, depending on the outcome of Thursday's arbitration hearing. The Nationals most likely would like a front-line pitcher in return, although they may have to settle for less.

I like the idea of Soriano playing in Wrigley Field a lot better than I do the notion of him roaming the RFK Stadium outfield. But here's the problem: the Cubs already have Todd Walker, Jerry Hairston and Neifi Perez. (Personally, I don't think Perez should be a factor in this, but Dusty Baker has certainly shown an affection for the guy.)

Hairston can play the outfield, but with Juan Pierre entrenched in center and Jacque Jones in right field, the only way he'd get into the lineup is if he pushed Matt Murton out of left field, which would be a crime since Murton needs a chance to prove himself after hitting .321 with seven dingers in 14 at-bats last year. Besides, now that Pierre is around, the Cubs don't need Hairston to be their leadoff man, and they'd probably be better off with a corner outfielder that had power.

In any regard, Soriano's fantasy stock would soar if he landed in Wrigley Field (unless, or course, you're already so high on him that you think he's still a first-round pick).

Nats want a reply from Sosa soon [Washington Times]
Sosa deal may benefit Cubs [Chicago Tribune]