Teixeira, Texas strike deal; Soriano seeks $12 million from Nationals

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

NEW YORK -- All-Star first baseman Mark Teixeira agreed to a $15.4 million, two-year contract Tuesday with the Texas Rangers, and former teammate Alfonso Soriano asked the Washington Nationals for a $12 million, one-year deal.

Soriano's figure was the highest submitted among the 44 players who swapped proposed salaries with their teams. More than half of the 100 players who filed for salary arbitration Friday settled before Tuesday's exchange of figures, and nearly all will reach agreements without hearings, which will be scheduled for next month in St. Petersburg, Fla.

More than two dozen players reached agreements Tuesday, including Washington catcher Brian Schneider ($16 million over four years), Houston closer Brad Lidge ($3,975,000), Los Angeles Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez ($3,775,000), new Texas pitcher Adam Eaton ($4.65 million), Pittsburgh pitcher Kip Wells ($4.15 million) and Toronto pitcher Ted Lilly ($4 million).

Cincinnati's Adam Dunn, who will move to first base this season following the trade of Sean Casey to Pittsburgh, asked for the second-highest amount, $8.95 million. The Reds offered $7.1 million, up from the $4.6 million Dunn made last season, when he batted .247 with 40 homers, 101 RBIs and 114 walks.

The Chicago Cubs have some of the most high-profile cases, swapping figures with pitchers Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano along with new leadoff hitter Juan Pierre.

After opting out of the final year of a contract that would have paid $2.75 million next season, Prior asked for $4 million and was offered $3.3 million. Zambrano, the Cubs' ace last season, hopes to nearly double his earnings from $3.76 million to $7.2 million. The team offered $6 million.

Pierre, acquired in a trade with the Florida Marlins, is seeking $6.5 million after earning $3.6 million in the final season of a multiyear contract. The Cubs are offering $5 million.

Catcher Josh Paul filed the lowest request, $750,000, and Tampa Bay made him the lowest offer, $475,000, a raise of just $25,000.

Soriano, acquired from the Rangers last month, was offered $10 million by the Nationals, a raise of $2.5 million.

"There's just a difference of opinion," Washington general manager Jim Bowden said. "There's kind of an agreement to disagree on where he falls."

While the Nationals want to move Soriano to the outfield, he said he prefers to remain at second base. He is eligible for free agency after the season, and it is possible Washington could trade him. He batted .268 last year with 34 homers, 104 RBIs and 30 steals.

Teixeira, who gets $6 million this year and $9.4 million in 2007, hit .301 with 43 home runs and 144 RBIs last season. The RBIs were the most for a switch-hitter, breaking the record set by George Davis, who had 136 for the New York Giants in 1896. In three major league seasons, the former first-round pick has a .282 career average with 107 homers and 340 RBIs.

"I'm happy to get this deal done and kind of get the business out of the way," Teixeira said. "I enjoy playing the game. This isn't always an easy part of it. I'm glad to get ready to play the game."

Schneider led NL catchers by throwing out 38 percent of would-be base stealers last season, and he hit .268 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs. He gets $2.7 million this year, $3.5 million in 2007 and $4.9 million in each of the final two years.

"Brian is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball and we're glad to be able to keep him in Washington for at least the next four years," Bowden said. "It is the goal of any organization to sign, develop and then retain their own homegrown players, and this is what we've accomplished with Brian's contract."

Tampa Bay and pitcher Travis Harper's $100,000 gap was the smallest. The $2 million difference between Soriano and Washington was the largest.

Seattle and utilityman Willie Bloomquist agreed to a two-year contract worth $1,525,000 but they exchanged figures anyway because the deal is pending a physical.

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