WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Ramon Ortiz filed for free agency on Wednesday, bringing the total of Nationals free agents to five. Left fielder Alfonso Soriano and right-hander Tony Armas filed on Sunday, while catcher/first baseman Robert Fick and outfielder Jose Guillen filed on Monday.
Ortiz, 33, signed a one-year $2.5 million contract last December and ended up being the Nationals' top starter in 2006, going 11-16 with a 5.57 ERA. His best game occurred against the Cardinals on Sept. 4, when he came within three outs of throwing the team's first no-hitter. Ortiz also hit a solo home run in the game.
Despite being inconsistent on the mound, Ortiz was often praised for his work ethic and positive attitude. In fact, then-manager Frank Robinson often used Ortiz as a pinch-runner. But the chances of Ortiz returning to Washington are 50-50 at best. The team is expected to go through a major overhaul in its rotation. The only guarantee is that John Patterson will be the ace of the staff.
Ortiz said he would love to stay in Washington because he wants to be close to his family in New York.
"Let me tell you: I love Washington. I love all the players. I told my agent that I want to come back to Washington," Ortiz said on the telephone. "Right now, I want to know what Washington has for me. We have a lot of friends there."
General manager Jim Bowden was unavailable for comment.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.