Soriano Gets Fifth-Richest Contract Ever

The Associated Press
Tuesday, November 21, 2006; 12:50 AM

NEW YORK -- Alfonso Soriano is thinking about a World Series title, something the Chicago Cubs have never brought to Wrigley Field.

Soriano's $136 million, eight-year contract was announced Monday by the Cubs after he passed a physical, the fifth-highest contract in baseball history and the first of eight years or more since Scott Rolen's deal with St. Louis in September 2002.

"It's a big contract, but that's not my goal," Soriano said. "My goal is to play hard and give you a championship for the city. That's my goal. It's not about the contract."

Chicago, which gave third baseman Aramis Ramirez a $75 million, five-year deal, hasn't won the World Series since 1908, when it played at the second West Side Park. In hopes of winning a championship, the Cubs are moving to the top level of baseball spenders, joining the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

General manager Jim Hendry isn't worried that Soriano, who turns 31 in January, will tail off drastically by the end of the deal.

"He's lean. He's like a greyhound, this guy. He's some kind of an athlete, and that's a very, very young body for his age," Hendry said. "Who knows if somebody is going to be as productive at 38 as they are at 30 or 31. But, like I said, there's a lot of guys in this game right now swinging the bat at a very high level in their late 30s or even early 40s."

In other moves Monday:

_ Nomar Garciaparra's $18.5 million, two-year contract was finalized by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who also were trying to reach a deal with center fielder Juan Pierre that would be worth about $45 million over five years.

_ Moises Alou's $8.5 million, one-year contract was finalized by the New York Mets, who declined left-hander Tom Glavine's $14 million option.

_ Mike Mussina and the New York Yankees reached a preliminary agreement on a $23 million, two-year contract, a deal pending a physical Tuesday.

_ The Cincinnati Reds finalized a $14 million, three-year deal with shortstop Alex Gonzalez and a $5.5 million, two-year deal with left-hander Mike Stanton, then traded catcher Jason LaRue to Kansas City for a player to be named.

Nineteen free-agent signings have been announced, about two weeks ahead of last year's pace.

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