- The Washington Times - Monday, June 26, 2006

Q: Realistically, what kind of salary will Alfonso Soriano draw in his next contract? How much total, how long, and how much a year would you guess he’ll pull given the expected buyers in the market next season? — Barry Dowell.

A: He’s going to get more than anyone thought he would at the start of the season. Soriano picked the right time to have a career year.

If he keeps this up, figure he’ll command at least a four- or five-year deal, worth anywhere from $13 million to $15 million a season.

Put it all together, and we’re talking about four years and $52 million minimum, five years and $75 million maximum. Not bad work if you can get it.

So if you’re the Nationals, are you willing to shell out that kind of dough on one player? And that’s assuming Soriano even wants to return to D.C.

Q: I find it rather amusing Jim Bowden, as well as reporters, such as yourself, in the D.C. area actually believe they have any shot in the world at landing either Lastings Milledge or Mike Pelfrey from the Mets. Those two players, along with David Wright and Jose Reyes, are the future of a Mets team the Nationals currently trail by 15 games — and we’re not even halfway done with the season. So what is it that makes you believe you will receive these players? They are untouchable. — Stephen M.

A: Whoa, no one ever said the Nationals are going to land one of those big-time prospects. All we said was that those are the kind of players Bowden is going to make a run at.

But there’s something else to consider here: Mets GM Omar Minaya’s desire to win a World Series. As one baseball executive put it to me not long ago, Omar doesn’t care about winning the NL East. He cares about winning the World Series. And he’s shown a willingness in the past to do whatever it takes and spend as much as it takes to try to reach that goal.

Does that mean he’ll trade Milledge and/or Pelfrey for Soriano? Maybe not. But if you’re Jim Bowden, what’s the harm in asking?

Q: The Nationals are looking to trade both Soriano and [Jose] Guillen. If they move both, won’t this leave a serious hole in the outfield? Wouldn’t they be better off trading one or the other? — Jonathan Pick

A: You are correct to point out the gaping hole that would appear in the Nationals’ outfield if both guys are traded. That, however, shouldn’t dictate whether Bowden makes those moves. If he can get something of value for both Soriano and Guillen, he needs to trade them.

The key, then, is getting at least one outfielder in return who can take over in either left or right field.

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To

submit a question, go to the Sports Page

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