Soriano, Lee, Tejada could change teams

Originally Published: July 11, 2006
By Enrique Rojas | ESPNdeportes.com

PITTSBURGH -- Even though they are three of baseball's best hitters, Latino All-Stars Alfonso Soriano, Miguel Tejada and Carlos Lee could be in different uniforms before the July 31 trade deadline.

Alfonso Soriano
Al Bello/Getty ImagesAlfonso Soriano wants to stay in Washington, D.C., but he'd rather not play left field.
Soriano, with 26 home runs and 20 steals in the first half of the season, is one of several Washington Nationals veterans who could be dealt this month. He will be a free agent after the season.

A three-time All-Star as a second baseman, Soriano caused an uproar in Washington shortly after he arrived there from Texas, resisting a change of position from second to left field. He later agreed to play left, but has made no secret of his wish to return to the infield.

"I've gotten used to the outfield, the National League and the city of Washington," Soriano told ESPNdeportes.com before the AL's 3-2 victory Tuesday. "I'd like to stay [in Washington], but that's really out of my control."

The 30-year-old Lee will also be eligible for free agency after this year's World Series. The outfielder hit .290 with 26 home runs and 73 RBI in the first half of this season, which would be his best ever if he keeps his current pace.

"I like Milwaukee; we've got a young team with a lot of potential and new management that wants to keep the nucleus together," Lee said. "Obviously, the decision won't be in my hands, but I can tell you that the Brewers and I are on the same page. I think I'll stay here for a long time."

Lee played six seasons for the Chicago White Sox before being traded to the Brewers before the 2005 season. In a season and a half, "El Caballo" has hit 58 home runs and has driven in 187 runs.

While Washington might be motivated to trade Soriano in order to get new talent and go into a reconstruction mode, the reality in Milwaukee is that the Brewers simply might not have the money to retain the services of a high-profile potential free agent like Lee.

Tejada is an entirely different story.

"I'm willing to finish my contract with the Orioles, as a man of my word, but at the same time, I wouldn't be surprised if I were traded."
-- Miguel Tejada

The All-Star shortstop is halfway through a six-year, $72 million deal he signed with the Baltimore Orioles after the 2003 season. Unhappy with the Orioles' lack of competitiveness in the American League, Tejada asked for a trade last winter, then retracted the request.

Despite hitting .315 with 17 home runs, 62 RBI and 62 runs scored at the All-Star break, trade rumors have surrounded Tejada in recent weeks. Then there were rumblings that the Orioles were upset by Tejada's late arrivals to the ballpark on game days and to team meetings.

Baltimore's front office recently said the team has no intention of trading its shortstop, but how many times have we heard that before a player was moved?

"I like Baltimore and I'm willing to finish my contract with the Orioles, as a man of my word, but at the same time, I wouldn't be surprised if I were traded," said Tejada, who has played 1,007 consecutive games, the seventh-longest streak in major league history.

"Baseball is a business and trades are part of it," added Tejada, the 2002 AL MVP with the Oakland A's. "But it did bother me to read that I was somehow a discipline problem on the Orioles, because throughout my career I've tried to give the best example possible on the field."

Before July 31, many players will change uniforms, including some of the stars we saw in Pittsburgh.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.