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Stuck with Soriano

Waivers expire on Nationals' would-be free agents

Posted: Tuesday August 22, 2006 11:30AM; Updated: Tuesday August 22, 2006 12:41PM
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The Nationals likely won't be able to re-sign Alfonso Soriano, which means they will have to settle for draft picks as compensation for their 30-30 star.
The Nationals likely won't be able to re-sign Alfonso Soriano, which means they will have to settle for draft picks as compensation for their 30-30 star.
John Iacono/SI
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By Jon Heyman, SI.com

The Nationals won't be able to trade pitchers Ramon Ortiz and Tony Armas Jr. or superstar outfielder Alfonso Soriano after waivers expired on all three players in recent days, SI.com has learned.

The rebuilding Nationals' supposed monster sale will wind up yielding them very little after claims were made on all three players and Washington was either unwilling or unable to trade them within the three allotted days. The waiver period expired on Ortiz and Armas on Friday, major league sources said.

Waiver periods last three business days after players are claimed.

All three players will be free agents, meaning they will be able to sign with any team after the season. The Nationals announced their intention to try to re-sign Soriano after they decided not trade him before the July 31 non-waiver deadline, but that endeavor seems like a long shot for a team that has said it is rebuilding.

It should have come as no surprise that all three players were claimed, considering they have value beyond their contracts. With pitching at a premium, both Ortiz and Armas were coveted despite so-so records.

Ortiz, who is 9-11 with a 5.31 ERA, was due to make $632,000 more on his $2.5 million base at the time his waivers expired, with a likely additional $400,000 to $600,000 due in incentive monies. Armas, who is 8-8 with a 4.73 ERA, was due to make $531,000 more on his $2.1 million salary when his waivers expired.

Soriano, who's batting .291 with 40 home runs and 30 stolen bases, was Washington's best hope to get a haul in return despite his $10 million salary for 2006. Several teams showed interest in the multitalented player, but general manager Jim Bowden deemed none of the offers fair for a player of his magnitude.

The Nationals wound up holding several veteran players whom they'd put on the trading block. There's still a chance they could trade second baseman Joe Vidro, but his high salary ($7 million) will hinder their chances to receive much in return.

The Nationals scored early when they acquired outfielder Austin Kearns and shortstop Felip Lopez in a multiplayer trade with Cincinnati. But their rebuilding efforts fell flat after that. Bowden told teams he was shopping at least six players before the July 31 waiver deadline, but he has traded only 39-year-old reliever Mike Stanton and veteran pitcher Livan Hernandez.

Bowden acquired three pitching prospects in those deals, but none are expected to make a quick impact. He got right-hander Garrett Mock and left-hander Matt Chico from Arizona for Hernandez, pitchers who are described respectively as a "No. 4 or 5 starter type and situational lefty'' by one competing GM. For Stanton, Bowden got touted right-hander Shairon Martis, who's only 19.

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