Whether Alfonso Soriano winds up playing second base or the outfield in 2006 isn't the only issue that Soriano and the Washington Nationals have to sort out.
Soriano's name was at the forefront on Tuesday as 43 players and their respective clubs exchanged numbers that could lead to arbitration hearings in February unless agreements are reached in the interim. Soriano's request of $12 million was the highest on the list, with the Nationals offering $10 million. Soriano made $7.5 million with Texas last year before being traded to Washington during the Winter Meetings last month. Soriano is eligible to become a free agent after the 2006 season.
While a cluster of arbitration-eligible players were able to reach agreements just prior to the deadline, preventing an exchange of figures, the process continues for others. If deals aren't in place by the time of the hearings -- scheduled to take place from Feb. 1-21 -- an arbitrator will pick either the player's figure or the club's figure as the 2006 salary.
Among outfielders, a couple of high-profile National League Central players exchanged numbers with their clubs on Tuesday. Adam Dunn of the Cincinnati Reds is asking for $8.95 million. The Reds are offering $7.1 million. Juan Pierre, acquired by the Cubs from Florida to provide a go-go spark, has requested $6.5 million with Chicago offering $5 million.
Elsewhere in the outfield arbitration picture, players such as Jay Gibbons of Baltimore, Coco Crisp of Cleveland, Craig Monroe of Detroit, Kevin Mench of Texas and Brady Clark of Milwaukee still have unresolved salaries for the upcoming season.
Gibbons is asking for $5.3 million and the Orioles are countering with a $4 million offer. Crisp has requested $3.05 million and the Indians are offering $2.35 million.
Mench is seeking $3.05 million from the Rangers and Texas has countered with a $2.45 million offer. Clark is asking for $3.5 million, which is $500,000 more than Milwaukee is offering. Monroe has requested $3.05 million with the Tigers offering $2.45 million.
In the starting pitcher grouping, a number of possible arbitration cases are pending. Boston's Josh Beckett is asking for $4.9 million with the Red Sox offering $3.75 million. Carlos Zambrano and Mark Prior of the Cubs are also in the arbitration mix. Zambrano is asking for $7.2 million and has been offered $6 million. Prior has requested $4 million and been offered $3.3 million.
Among other starting pitchers who exchanged figured with their clubs on Tuesday were Milwaukee's Tomo Ohka ($5.2 million requested, $4.25 million offered); Boston's Bronson Arroyo ($4.2 million requested, $2.95 million offered); Minnesota's Kyle Lohse ($3.95 million requested, $3.4 million offered); Seattle's Gil Meche ($4.2 million requested, $3.35 million offered); the Yankees' Shawn Chacon ($4.15 million requested, $3.1 million offered); Baltimore's Rodrigo Lopez ($4.5 million requested, $3.75 million offered) and the Rangers' Vicente Padilla ($4.8 million requested, $4.1 million offered).
Possible infielder cases include Toronto's Shea Hillenbrand ($6.7 million requested, $5 million offered); Houston's Morgan Ensberg ($4.2 million requested, $3.4 million offered); Cincinnati's Felipe Lopez ($3 million requested, $2.15 million offered); Cleveland's Ben Broussard ($2.6 million requested, $2.2 million offered) and Baltimore's Brian Roberts ($3.6 million requested, $2.4 million offered).
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.