O's Find Soriano Is Seeking A Rich Free Agent Payday

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Baltimore Orioles, according to a team source, began preliminary discussions with Washington Nationals left fielder Alfonso Soriano , and were floored by the free agent's initial contract outline.

According to the source, Soriano is seeking a deal similar to the seven-year, $119 million deal given to center fielder Carlos Beltran by the New York Mets before the 2005 season. It's unlikely the Orioles will be in the running for Soriano if he doesn't back off those demands. Teams can start bidding on free agents on Nov. 12.

Meantime, outfielder Jose Guillen , who for half of 2005 looked like he would be a mainstay with the Nationals, joined catcher-first baseman Robert Fick in filing for free agency yesterday, a day after Soriano did the same.

Guillen, 30, played in only 69 games, hitting .216 with nine homers and 40 RBI a year after leading Washington in both categories. His season ended in July when he tore a ligament in his right elbow.

Fick, 32, played 60 games as a backup in his only season with the Nationals, hitting .266.

Meantime, St. Louis Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo might not be a candidate for the Nationals' managerial job after all. Oquendo, however, will interview with the San Diego Padres this week.

A source with knowledge of the Nationals' search told The Post on Sunday night that Washington had contacted the Cardinals to request permission to speak with Oquendo. However, two sources said yesterday that Oquendo isn't on the Nationals' list.

-- Jorge Arangure Jr. and Barry Svrluga

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