WASHINGTON – Utilityman Robert Fick and reliever Joey Eischen signed one-year deals Tuesday with the Washington Nationals. The team also formally announced the trade for Alfonso Soriano and added four catchers to compete for a reserve role.

Fick hit .265 with three homers and 30 RBIs in 93 games with San Diego last season. He has played first base, catcher and in the outfield, and joins earlier free-agent additions Damian Jackson and Marlon Anderson to give Washington a versatile bench.

Eischen, the only left-hander on Washington’s pitching staff for stretches of 2005, was 2-1 with a 3.22 ERA in 57 relief appearances. He stranded 40 of 48 inherited runners, an 83.3 percentage that ranked fifth in the NL.

Washington signed catchers Wiki Gonzalez, Mike DiFelice, Alberto Castillo and Brandon Harper to minor league contracts. All spent time at Triple-A last season.

Gary Bennett, the backup to starting catcher Brian Schneider last season, left as a free agent and signed with St. Louis.

Soriano, a four-time All-Star, was traded by Texas to the Nationals for outfielders Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge and minor league pitcher Armando Galarraga. The teams agreed to the deal last week during baseball’s winter meetings in Dallas.

“By acquiring Alfonso Soriano, we have added one of the game’s dominant offensive players. We believe Alfonso’s power from the right side and speed will take our lineup to new heights,” Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said.

Soriano hit .268 with 36 homers, a career-best 104 RBIs and 30 steals last season. He’s averaged 35 homers, 97 RBIs and 31 steals over the past four seasons.

AP-ES-12-13-05 1213EST


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