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Sunday, October 29, 2006
Soriano, Schmidt highlight latest free-agent filings

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Washington's Alfonso Soriano filed for free agency Sunday along with San Francisco pitcher Jason Schmidt.

 Alfonso Soriano
 Jason Schmidt

Oft-injured Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood and Rangers All-Star center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. also were among 24 players who filed on the second possible day, as was St. Louis Cardinals backup catcher Gary Bennett, the first member of the World Series champions to file.

A total of 89 players have filed since the World Series from a potential free-agent class of about 200. Players can file through Nov. 11, and free agents can talk money with all teams beginning the following day.

Moved from second base to the outfield by the Nationals, the 30-year-old Soriano batted .277 with 46 homers, 95 RBI and 41 steals. Soriano joined Jose Canseco (Oakland 1988), Barry Bonds (San Francisco 1996) and Alex Rodriguez (Seattle 1998) as the only players with 40 homers and 40 stolen bases in the same season.

He made $10 million this year after losing in salary arbitration. Soriano had asked for $12 million.

Schmidt's $10 million option for 2006 was exercised by the Giants, but knew they might lose him as a free agent this offseason. The 33-year-old right-hander seemed ready for a change of scenery from San Francisco, which has endured two straight losing seasons and three in a row out of the playoffs.

Some scouts seemed more interested in Schmidt this season than Oakland's Barry Zito, who is expected to leave the A's and sign with a big-spending team.

Schmidt was the Giants' lone All-Star this season and went 11-9 with a 3.59 ERA in 213 1/3 innings.

After missing spring training because of a rib cage injury, Matthews hit .313 with 19 home runs, 79 RBI and 102 runs, the most ever scored by a Texas leadoff hitter. He was an All-Star for the first time.

Matthews was also outstanding in the field, with several homer-robbing catches. He had one of the best catches of the season when he sprinted, leaped, twisted his body and stuck his glove well above the eight-foot wall to rob Astros infielder Mike Lamb of a home run on July 1.

The Rangers have said keeping Matthews is a priority, but he could triple his $2.3 million salary.

Under new rules this offseason, free agents do not face any deadlines to re-sign with their former teams. In the past, players had to re-sign by Dec. 7 (or Jan. 8 if offered salary arbitration) or else could not return to their former teams until May 1. The deadlines were eliminated in baseball's new labor contract.