Hot Stove: Soriano being sought out

Hot Stove: Soriano being sought out

One of the self-imposed rules Pat Gillick had when he was the Seattle Mariners general manager limited multiyear contract offers to a maximum of four years.

He believed that contracts lasting longer than that almost always resulted in one of the two sides becoming unhappy before the contract ran its course.

Times have changed, and perhaps so has Gillick's philosophy.

Reports out of Philadelphia on Tuesday said that the Phillies have offered free-agent outfielder Alfonso Soriano a "four-to-five-year" contract and would be willing to put a six-year proposal on the table.

Gillick, entering his second season as the Phillies' GM, told the Philadelphia Daily News on Monday that while offers to some free agents have been made, he wouldn't confirm that any of them went to Soriano.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have made an offer to Soriano, believed to be a six-year, $80 million proposal.

As the first 40-40-40 player in MLB history -- 40 home runs, 40 doubles and 40 stolen bases in the same season -- Soriano is the most productive player on the free-agent market this year. At least six teams are known to have him near the top of their wish list.

The Phillies are looking for someone to provide protection for first baseman Ryan Howard.

Even without an equally-feared run-producer batting behind him this past season, Howard led the big-leagues in home runs with 58 and drove in a MLB-best 149 runs.

A Howard-Soriano tandem sure would light up the Citizens Bank Park scoreboard wouldn't it?

But a (fill-in-the-blank)-Soriano tandem would be pretty exciting.

Elsewhere on the Hot Stove circuit:

Rangers: If familiarity means anything, the Rangers could soon be adding left-hander Barry Zito to their starting rotation. New manager Ron Washington and Zito spent the past seven years with the Oakland Athletics and the Rangers are going to attempt to reunite them in Arlington. Other free-agent pitching targets are left-hander Ted Lilly and right-hander Jeff Suppan. The Rangers don't figure to go after right-hander Jason Schmidt because of concerns about his right shoulder.

Astros: GM Tim Purpura said he would not offer salary arbitration to Roger Clemens or Andy Pettitte, but hopes both will return in '07. Purpura also met with the agents for Soriano and Carlos Lee. Adam Katz, who represents Lee, had a brief hallway discussion with Purpura on Tuesday and they were expected to meet later in the day.

Indians: Much of the attention is on Thursday, when the Indians should learn whether they won the bidding for Japanese third baseman Akinori Iwamura. The Indians have Andy Marte penciled in at the hot corner and recently acquired Josh Barfield from the Padres to play second base. Iwamura, a five-time Gold Glove winner in Japan, would provide infield depth.

Mariners: Club officials reportedly have made contact with the agent for free agent right-handed pitcher Tomo Ohka. The Seattle Post Intelligencer indicated on Tuesday that Seattle has talked twice in recent weeks with Ohka's agent, Jim Masteralexis. Ohka, 30, made 18 starts for Milwaukee last season, going 4-5 with a 4.82 ERA.

Mets: Right-hander Orlando Hernandez on Tuesday reportedly agreed to a two-year contract worth at least $11 million. The 37-year-old missed the entire postseason after tearing a calf muscle during a workout the day before the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers began. Hernandez, Tom Glavine and Steve Trachsel filed for free agency and ace right-hander Pedro Martinez will be out of action until late summer, leaving the starting rotation in limbo.

Rockies: The future of ace right-hander Jason Jennings could be up in the air. The Rockies would like to sign him to a multi-year contract, but the New York Post reports that Jennings, who could become a free agent at the end of the '07 season, is on the trade market. The Rocky Mountain News reported that Brewers center fielder Brady Clark would be a trade possibility for the Rockies if the Brewers sign Dave Roberts.

Red Sox: Most of the focus has been on the bidding process for Japanese pitching star Daisuke Matsuzaka, but general manager Theo Epstein is pursuing other projects under the radar. Epstein confirmed that he had made an offer to one free agent. Reliever Justin Speier, according to the Boston Globe and Boston Herald, is a player the Red Sox would like to sign. Other possibilities are right-handers Gil Meche and/or Vicente Padilla. Epstein told the Globe that an offer had yet to be made for outfielder J.D. Drew.

Reds: The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that the Reds could be among the teams interested in trading for Braves second baseman Marcus Giles. Cincinnati has a middle infield hole to fill and could easily move second baseman Brandon Phillips to shortstop to accommodate Giles, who is due to make $5.5 million next season.

Blue Jays: Lilly reportedly wants a four-year contract worth $9 million per season, and that could guarantee his departure from the Blue Jays. General manager J.P. Ricciardi said late last season that paying Lilly $8 million a year would be too much. Ricciardi also told the Toronto Sun that free-agent shortstop Julio Lugo is seeking a four-year deal worth $32 million. That also might be too expensive for the Blue Jays, prompting the club to turn its attention towards pursuing a second baseman instead of a shortstop.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.