Four more Washington Nationals, headlined by right-hander Esteban Loaiza, filed for free agency yesterday, the second day players were allowed to do so.
Right-hander Tony Armas Jr., infielder Carlos Baerga and backup catcher Gary Bennett joined Loaiza in officially filing. Outfielder Preston Wilson, reliever Joey Eischen and infielder Deivi Cruz filed on Thursday.
Of those players, the Nationals would most like to re-sign Loaiza, to whom they have already made an offer for two years at $4 million per season. Loaiza is seeking a three-year deal worth $7 million per season. He went 12-10 with a 3.77 ERA in 217 innings in 2005, earning $2.9 million.
Armas's career with the Nationals franchise likely is over. He went 7-7 with a 4.97 ERA but didn't pitch after Sept. 1 because of shoulder inflammation, which eventually required surgery. Armas earned $2.26 million in 2005.
Baerga, who will turn 37 next week, hit .253 in 158 at-bats, largely as a pinch hitter. Baerga, who earned $350,000, likely won't return.
Bennett hit .221 in 68 games backing up Brian Schneider, but GM Jim Bowden wants to pursue a more productive alternative such as Philadelphia's Todd Pratt. Bennett made $750,000 last year.
Also yesterday, right-hander Luis Ayala underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. He should be ready for spring training.
-- Barry Svrluga