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Saturday, November 11, 2006
Updated: November 12, 3:49 AM ET
Reports: Ramirez joins Soriano on market

ESPN.com news services

Who's going to be the next Carlos Beltran? That's the question now that the deadline passed for teams to negotiate exclusively with their own free agents and no 11th-hour deals were announced.

Alfonso Soriano
Soriano
Aramis Ramirez
Ramirez

Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano appear to have the best chance to cash in big.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the Cubs offered Ramirez a five-year contract worth at least $70 million, but no word of a deal was coming out of the 28-year-old's camp as the midnight deadline passed on Saturday.

That could be good news for the Angels. The Los Angeles Times reported that the team was prepared to move quickly on the top available players. The Tribune said the Angels could make Ramirez an offer as soon as Sunday.

"I expect some of the free agents will want to take their time," Angels general manager Bill Stoneman told the Times. "That's not something we want to do."

ESPN's Keith Law ranked Ramirez as the "best all-around position player on the free-agent market this winter," and the third baseman's representatives seemed to feel the same way.

"If he hits the market, we'll be looking at Beltran money," Ramirez's agent Paul Kinzer told the Times before the deadline.

Beltran signed a seven-year, $119 million deal with the Mets in 2004.

Ramirez started slowly last season but finished with a .291 average and career highs of 38 home runs and 119 RBI. He opted out of the last two years and $22.5 million of his contract with the hope of a larger payday.

Kinzer said he would be receptive to a quick, impressive offer.

"When you come in aggressively, you can get a deal done," he told the Times.

But the Angels might have competition from more than the Cubs. The Dodgers are reportedly also interested in Ramirez.

The market for Soriano is a little more difficult to gauge. What appears clear, however, is that the Nationals likely will not sign the 40-40 player.

The 30-year-old batted .277 last season with 46 home runs, 95 RBI and 41 stolen bases for last-place Washington, but the Nats never saw a deal they liked for Soriano. Now, their budget may not fit what the player will earn.

Some other big names that hit the market on Sunday are the Rangers' Carlos Lee, the Giants' Jason Schmidt, the A's Barry Zito, the Astros' Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte and the Dodgers' J.D. Drew.

In addition, Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka has been the focus of a bidding war between a number of MLB teams. ESPN.com has reported that the Red Sox have offered the most money to his team, the Seibu Lions, to win the rights to negotiate with the hurler.