Phillies attempt to woo Soriano

Phillies attempt to woo Soriano

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have fired the opening salvo to bring free agent Alfonso Soriano to Philadelphia.

Baseball sources confirmed that the Phillies are one of "a few" teams to present an offer to the outfielder, believed to be for four to five years. The Phillies are also believed to be willing to go as high as six seasons. Soriano is said to be seeking at least a six-year commitment, and might be looking for something comparable to the seven-year, $119 million contract Carlos Beltran received from the Mets in Jan. 2004.

"They're in it," the source said. "They got the ball rolling."

The source wouldn't say whether the Phillies were the first team in line for Soriano, and didn't know how many more teams will enter the fray. As many as nine teams are expected to at least inquire about Soriano's price, including the Cubs, Angels, Mets and Astros, though Houston is said to be focusing more on Carlos Lee.

General manager Pat Gillick told the Philadelphia Daily News on Monday that the Phillies presented offers to some free agents when the market opened Sunday, but wouldn't confirm that one of those offers went to Soriano. He reiterated the team's stance on its search for pitching and a hitter to protect Ryan Howard in the National League's most potent offense.

"I can't really talk about that," Gillick told the paper, at the GM meeting at the Tony Naples Grande Resort in Naples, Fla. "I can't comment on it."

Gillick also told the Daily News that he places equal emphasis on acquiring both pitching and a potent bat, but conceded that the pitching would likely come via a trade.

"Probably trades," Gillick said. "Although, if you did a survey of all the other teams, they all say they're looking for pitching, too. So if you say you're going to make a trade, it's hard to do. At the same time, the [free-agent pitchers] are not the most attractive group."

The two marquee free-agent names -- Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt -- have made it known that they have no interest in pitching in Philadelphia, specifically Citizens Bank Park. Both are from the West Coast and prefer to stay there. The Phillies remain hopeful that they can sign Randy Wolf, but he's testing the open market.

Gillick told the paper the Phillies expressed interest in roughly 40 of the 180 or so players that filed for free agency. Those names include Joe Borowski, David Weathers, Miguel Batista, Chad Bradford, Tomo Ohka, Octavio Dotel on the pitching side, and Mark DeRosa, Wes Helms and Soriano on the hitting side.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.