- The Washington Times - Friday, February 10, 2006

Newly acquired Washington Nationals slugger Alfonso Soriano had his salary arbitration case heard yesterday in St. Petersburg, Fla., and a ruling is expected today.

Soriano asked for a $12 million salary, tops among the 44 major leaguers who filed for arbitration this winter. The Nationals countered with a $10 million offer, a $2.5 million raise of Soriano’s 2005 salary with the Texas Rangers.

Teams historically have fared better than players in arbitration cases, though one of the two that have been settled this year went in favor of the player: Kansas City Royals outfielder Emil Brown. Colorado Rockies pitcher Sunny Kim lost his case.

Regardless of the outcome of Soriano’s hearing, the Nationals are almost certain to top the $60 million payroll mark this season. The club already has signed 21 veterans for a total of more than $48 million. Once Soriano is signed, the total will rise to either $58 million or $60 million.

Add to that a handful of young players — Chad Cordero, John Patterson, Gary Majewski, Ryan Church and Ryan Zimmerman, among others — who will make slightly above the major league minimum of $327,000, and Washington’s total payroll could surpass $62 million. That would be $10 million more than the club’s payroll at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, the Nationals signed five more players to minor-league contracts yesterday, offering spring training invitations to left-handers Mike Bacsik and Jim Crowell.

Bacsik, 28, is 5-5 with a 5.88 ERA in 22 major league appearances with the Indians, Mets and Rangers. Crowell, 31, has pitched in 10 major league games, posting an 11.37 ERA with the Reds, Phillies and Marlins.

Third baseman Brandon Larson (a Reds first-round pick in 1997) and shortstops Anthony Medrano and Rayner Bautista also signed minor league contracts but were not invited to major league camp.

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