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Nationals offer contract to Sosa

Nationals offer contract to Sosa

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WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have offered outfielder Sammy Sosa a non-guaranteed Major League contract, according to general manager Jim Bowden. Terms of the offer were not disclosed, but Sosa will get far less money than he received in 2005, when he made a little more than $17 million with the Orioles.

As of Wednesday, Sosa has not responded to the offer.

At first, the Nationals offered Sosa a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training, but he felt he deserved better because of his stature in the game. Sosa was one of the most prolific sluggers of the 1990s -- the only man to have three 60-homer seasons -- and is two years removed from hitting 35 home runs with the Cubs.

If he accepts the Major League deal, Sosa has to prove that he can still play. He is coming off the toughest 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.

If Sosa were to make the team out of Spring Training, the Nationals could have an outfield of Guillen in left field, Soriano in center and Sosa in right, while Marlon Byrd, Ryan Church, Michael Tucker and Robert Fick would become the reserves. Brandon Watson, currently the leading candidate to start in center field, likely would begin the season at Triple-A New Orleans.

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

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