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Sunday, July 23, 2006
Updated: July 24, 9:56 AM ET
Soriano wants to stay in D.C.; no progress on deal

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Alfonso Soriano says he wants to stay with the Washington Nationals, but he doubts he'll reach an agreement on a new contract before the July 31 trade deadline.

Buster Olney's blog
Buster Olney
When Alfonso Soriano says he wants a no-trade clause, he means it; this is a deal-breaker for a guy who could be in a great position to ask for a no-trade clause in the fall, when he's a free agent.

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"I don't think so. I think that my agent and the club, they have to talk a lot," Soriano said after homering in Washington's 7-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday. "If we have something working, we need a little bit more time."

The five-time All-Star said he spoke with incoming team president Stan Kasten on Thursday, but they didn't discuss contract details. Soriano added that he doesn't think his agent, Diego Bentz, has discussed numbers with the Nationals, either.

Reached by telephone, Bentz wouldn't say whether contract proposals have been extended by him or the club.

"That doesn't really mean anything. The bigger question is: 'Does he like it there or not? Does he feel comfortable there?' Obviously. You can tell by the way he's playing," Bentz said.

Soriano joined Washington last offseason in a trade from Texas, and the Nationals shifted him from second base to left field. Soriano is batting .288 with 31 homers, 62 RBI and 25 steals.

Soriano is slated to become a free agent at season's end; the Nationals figure to be able to get top prospects in return if they deal him.

During Sunday's game, Kasten said he's had "numerous conversations" with Soriano and his agent.

"I have been told unequivocally, from both of them, they would like to remain here. No doubt about that," Kasten said.

"We love Alfonso, we love what he does -- lots of people do. Let's face it: He's a potential MVP candidate. It goes without saying that he's a superior player," Kasten added. "But, you know, our No. 1 mission is getting to be the best team we can as soon as possible."

One potential stumbling block if the sides try to agree on a new contract: Soriano said he wants a no-trade clause, something Kasten pointed out Sunday he refused to include in contracts he negotiated in recent years while an executive with the Atlanta Braves, the NBA's Hawks and the NHL's Thrashers.