Though we can probably expect his power numbers to dip playing 81 games at RFK, the addition of Alfonso gives the ownerless Nationals their most potent offense weapon. From the Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant.
The Rangers moved to reshape their lineup late Wednesday night by sending Alfonso Soriano (above) to the Washington Nationals in a four-player trade still contingent upon physicals.
But if this trade is to impact the pitching staff, it likely won’t be felt in 2006.
The Rangers will acquire center fielder Brad Wilkerson, a far more discerning hitter than Soriano, outfielder Terrmel Sledge and starting pitching prospect Armando Galarraga.
Wilkerson, who turns 29 next June, makes trading an outfielder “ either Kevin Mench or Laynce Nix “ more feasible. It may also save the Rangers some cash, since Wikerson, an arbitration-eligible player represented by Scott Boras, is expected to make about $5 million. That’s about half of what Soriano was expected to receive in arbitration.
The move also opens the possibility that prospect Ian Kinsler could move into the Rangers’ lineup at second base in 2006.
Wilkerson is only a career .256 hitter but has taken at least 80 walks in each of the last three seasons and has an attractive .365 career on-base percentage. The left-handed hitter could slide into the leadoff spot, which is where he hit for most of last season with Washington.
Wilkerson is coming off a subpar year. He hit a career-best 32 homers in 2004, but fell to just 11 in 2005. Some of that may have been due to the Nationals’ move from Montreal to a more pitcher-friendly stadium in Washington.
Sledge, who turns 29 in March, hit 15 homers as a rookie in 2004 but was limited to just 20 games last year by hamstring problems. He also tested positive for steroids in 2003 while trying out for the U.S. Olympic baseball team. He was suspended for two years from international competition.
The lone pitching acquisition is Galarraga, a skinny (6-4, 170 pounds) right-hander from Venezuela who turns 24 in January. Baseball America magazine ranked him as the fifth-best prospect in the Nationals’ organization last season and the seventh-best in the Class A Carolina League. He split the season between Potomac in the Carolina League and Double-A Harrisburg. He was 3-4 with both teams but had a 2.48 ERA in Class A, 5.19 in Double-A.