- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Washington Nationals yesterday denied a newspaper report out of the Dominican Republic that quoted front-office official Jose Rijo saying outfielder Alfonso Soriano rejected a five-year, $70 million contract offer from the club.

“The report is simply not true,” said team president Stan Kasten, adding that Rijo himself denied making the remarks.

Rijo, who lives in the Dominican Republic, could not be reached last night. General manager Jim Bowden declined to comment.

According to yesterday’s edition of Listin Diario, Soriano (a pending free agent) rejected the Nationals’ offer of $14 million a season. “It’s almost impossible this great player will stay on our payroll,” Rijo was quoted as saying. “Everyone is more than interested in having a player like Soriano, but finances are keeping this from happening.”

Whether the report was true or not, the Nationals clearly are nowhere close to re-signing Soriano. The two sides held a preliminary meeting at RFK Stadium last week, but little was accomplished. Soriano said at the end of the season that he planned to wait a while before discussing contracts with anyone.

The 30-year-old slugger this season became the first player in major league history to hit 40 homers, steal 40 bases and hit 40 doubles and will be the premier free agent on the market this winter. He’s expected to receive bigger offers than the one he reportedly got from the Nationals.

Washington does have an exclusive window to negotiate with Soriano until 15 days after the conclusion of the World Series, at which time players are allowed to declare for free agency.

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