Washington has already offered Sosa a one-year, $500,000 non-guaranteed Major League contract. While it has not set a deadline, the team would like Sosa to make a decision before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Feb. 18.
"The Nationals don't want this to drag on beyond the time the pitchers and catchers report, because the team doesn't want any distractions," a baseball source said.
The source put Sosa's chances of signing with Washington at 50-50, maybe 60-40 against. The team is not planning to increase the offer. The Nationals already moved from their original offer of a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training.
If he accepts the deal, Sosa has to prove he can still play. He is coming off the worst season of his career, hitting .221 with 14 home runs and 45 RBIs, and he had two stints on the disabled list with Baltimore.
The Nationals look at Sosa as Spring Training insurance in case Jose Guillen's injured left shoulder has not fully recovered, and if Alfonso Soriano continues to refuse to play the outfield, or plays in the World Baseball Classic.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.