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BOWDEN TO ESPN: SORIANO STAYS!

[July 31st] -- Jim Bowden contacted ESPN and told them just minutes after the 4:00 p.m. trade deadline that the Nattionals have decided to keep Alfonso Soriano and attempt to sign him to a long-term contract. Keith Law, being interviewed when the news came in, said that Bowden's decision was a "big mistake."

I have to believe that Bowden made this decision because he really believes the Nationals have a good chance to re-sign him to a long term contract before he becomes a free agent. Perhaps negotiations were going well enough over the past few days that the team feels comfortable that he'll become a part of the team's long-term future. Kevin Kennedy said on his XM radio program that his "sources" within the Nationals team stated "emphatically" that Soriano would be gone by 4:00 Monday. Because Bowden turned down a "significant" offer from the Angels, Soriano might be ready to sign a long term contract with the club.

Some websites are suggesting that Bowden didn't intend to keep Soriano as some "sign" that the Nationals are now emboldened and able to create a first class franchise. They are saying that Bowden kept the price too high, played one too many GM's against another, and his "house of cards" came down with a thud about half-an-hour before trade deadline. His keeping Soriano, they say, was the only option left.

I don't buy it. I think that Bowden woke up this morning ready to trade Soriano for the prospects he thought he was worth or he was going to keep his star. While the two haven't come close to an agreement for an extension or a new deal, I'm sure that both sides feel good enough about where things are heading that Bowden was willing to take this chance. He can now say to Soriano, "Okay big fella, you said you wanted to stay and I turned down two very good offers to keep you here. Show me your appreciation by finalizing a deal now so the fans know that you meant what you said." I think it'll work.

What will it cost? Four years, maybe five, at a minimum of $12 million a year (that's what he asked for in arbitration, before his "stud-ly" 2006 season. Probably, the "numbers" can be worked out -- but what about this "no trade" clause that he's demanding? Stan Kasten says he's never signed any player to a "no-trade," and doesn't see any reason to start. I do. I'd hate to see the Nationals go this far out on a limb to keep Soriano and then balk at a "no trade." My hope is that Kasten and Bowden will either give him a "partial" no trade clause or give him a "full" no trade, but for only the first two years.

For this to work, both sides have to give. Thus far, The Nationals have given Alfonso "respect" by keeping him. That's a big chance to take for the club right now. Now it's Soriano's turn. Tell the fans that your ready and willing to hammer out a contract now, in the next couple of days.
It's the right thing to do.
I've put off telling you how I feel for a reason; I'm not sure exactly how I feel. I was very much looking forward to a plethora of prospects in return for Soriano, instantly lifting the Nationals' dreary minor league farm system to the low range of respectability. That said, we all know that prospects, even the "can't miss" kind, are a crapshoot. Bottom line: With Soriano, next season's lineup will be very potent. If Livan can "come back," and if the Nationals can find a couple of servicable, inexpensive starters, this team can win 85 games next season (assuming all the DL'd broken bodies return next season).
Maybe we don't need that much tinkering after all?

Comments:
Nice scoop, Farid. Man, Bowden is an iiiiiidiot... I take back all the nice things I said about him.
 
I almost died in the build up to this trade deadline......and nothing happened???? Ok, I'm kinda glad Alfonso stayed, but I thought Livo, Ortiz and Armas we all gone...what happened to the rebuilding the farm system with prospects crap they've been spittin out since day 1.
 
I don't think there is any chance that the Lerners will pony up $15 million per year for five years and agree to a no trade clause. I predicted that Soriano would not be moved today and I am still predicting that he will depart via free agency at the end of the season. In the end, Bowden was greedy. He was offering a two month rental and he wanted to rape the buyer. Nor did Bowden move any of the players in our trash pile like Livan, Armas or Ortiz. The rebuilding hopes took a dive today.
 
(Eric said ...) We must believe that, at the end of the day, they didn't get an offer for Soriano that clearly exceeded the value of two extra first round draft picks in a supposedly deep draft. This is a long-term rebuild effort, and the Nats have brought some serious scouting talent aboard, so they have to assume that they will get top major league talent from those picks.

As for Livan: he is more valuable to the Nationals next year -- as a starter in the first half and as deadline trade bait in the second half. Hopefully, he will get himself in shape and have real market value next year (this year, he was viewed as a salary dump and other teams were expecting the Nationals to eat salary and take a minimal return). As for Armas and Ortiz, I have to assume that the packages that the Nationals were offered (if any) were so poor as to mean their greater value was as keepers to finish out the season (and possibly targets to resign for next year). The Nationals just don't have many MLB-ready options at the starting pitching position in their system, and there isn't that much available on the free agent market next year.

Bottom line is that today doesn't influence my view of the rebuilding process, other than to say it's too bad that they couldn't get the package they were seeking. BUT ...

Now, they need to turn their focus to signing Black, King, Gibson and Dickerson before they are off to college. Failure to sign them will be a huge negative. And then prepare for the off-season, when they will have Guzman, Broadway and others to shop, hopefully for some pitching.
 
Its fabulous that Soriano is staying. Why trade him away for the obvious junk that was being offered. Trading Alfonso away for lesser expectations, just to do it, would have left some serious bad taste in the mouth of the, now growing again, fan base. The ball is truly in Soriano's court, its his turn to show that he's a man of his words. If so, WASHINGTON HAS A FRANCHISE PLAYER that will put new fans into the seats, fans that would otherwise, not attend a baseball game. If he turns his back, the Nats are off the hook for trying. I said it for a while, and am glad the day passed with Alfonso still a NATIONAL!! Livan too--Hernandez has struggled, but he LOVES playing in Washington. These type of players attract other good players to Washington. The signals are out. DC IS THE PLACE TO BE!! Its a good day for Washington BASEBALL. Really good day!!
 
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