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The Sosa Saga

The New York newspaper Newsday reports that Sammy Sosa's agent has indicated a willingness for Sosa to forego some of the 2006 option money in his deal in order to facilitate a trade.

This is a very carefully crafted minuet the two sides are dancing, isn't it? First the almost-apologies, then both sides saying they feel Sammy might be right back with the Cubs next year -- of course, after mending fences with his teammates, something that's about as likely to happen as John Kerry being elected the next governor of Alabama, and while we Cubs fans want instant gratification, this thing is going to take some time to figure out.

Remember how long the Alex Rodriguez saga lasted last winter? And how he almost became a member of the Red Sox? (And incidentally, if he had, I don't think the Red Sox would now be World Champions, either.)

This is a similar situation, only it will become easier to do, because as the Newsday article points out:

The union views Sosa's situation differently than Rodriguez's because Rodriguez was giving up guaranteed money. The trigger clause is not guaranteed money, so the union wouldn't be as bothered by a waiving of it. That would lower the money owed Sosa to a relatively small $21.5 million.

What you have to read between the lines there to see is that Sosa has to realize that there's no way anyone is going to guarantee his 2006 money. If he stays here in Chicago and doesn't get off to a rocket-fast start (unlikely, since even in his good years he had horrid Aprils), he's likely to have boo-birds on him unmercifully, which will cause him and the club untold grief, and the Cubs would unceremoniously cut him loose after 2005. If he leaves and goes to a new situation, he at least has the chance of free agency after 2005, which would perhaps result in a new deal better than the one he's got now.

And in any case, including only his 2005 salary of $17 million, Sammy's made over $123 million in his career -- enough to buy a fair chunk of the Dominican Republic. How much more do you need, really?

This leads to the next question -- for whom do you trade him? The Mets seem a good fit, with the large Dominican community in New York and Sosa's popularity there, but the only Met contract that comes close to fitting in this deal is Cliff Floyd's. Floyd is, well, he's a DH trying to play the outfield, and the Cubs can't use a DH, and when Floyd's not butchering up the outfield, he's injured -- he's played over 140 games only three times in a twelve-year career.

If Jim Hendry could flip Floyd to an AL team to use as a DH, this might work better, but that might stick the Cubs with Chan Ho Park, who as recently as 2001 was a fine pitcher, but has sucked since he went to Texas. He's 31, and maybe the change of scenery would help him.

But that's complicated. The deal that makes the most sense, if Sosa really is serious about foregoing some of the contract money, would be to send him to the Dodgers for Shawn Green. That's what used to be known in the pre-megacontract days as a "challenge trade" -- i.e. trading players who play the same position, with the idea that the change of venue would help both of them.

In this case, I think it would, and it would free up Cub dollars to go after Carlos Beltran and others, and it'd bring a left-handed bat who could help the ballclub and not bitch and complain about batting sixth.

One thing Hendry has done is surprise us with deals, so maybe there's something else out there that I haven't thought of, and like the Hundley for Karros/Grudzielanek deal, will be of great benefit to the Cubs.

We can only hope, and continue to await developments.