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A Sosa Rumor You Haven't Heard

The usual reliable sources (and though I can't reveal them, this comes from someone I absolutely trust) have told me that the Cubs are exploring the possibility of trading Sammy to the Marlins.

In return, the Cubs would get Luis Castillo and Juan Encarnacion.

Castillo would become the starting second baseman and leadoff man. He has almost no power, but does draw some walks (.368 lifetime OBP). He's a switch-hitter who Jim Hendry considered acquiring a year ago when he was a free agent. It appears that the Cubs have no interest in retaining Todd Walker, which is too bad, but Castillo would be roughly equivalent, better defense and more speed, but less power. I also heard that Walker may be close to signing with the Texas Rangers, which makes little sense unless the Rangers are about to move Alfonso Soriano.

Encarnacion would play right field, of course. He appeared to be getting better in 2002 and 2003, but regressed last year, which he split between the Dodgers and Marlins. He'd likely be a placeholder until the Cubs can either develop someone or make another deal.

Both players will be 29 years old by Opening Day.

The money doesn't completely match up -- the two Marlins are due to make a little over $9 million combined in 2005 -- but this is where Hendry has to get creative, maybe involve a third team, as the Rockies did when they dumped Mike Hampton's deal, and I do have confidence in Hendry to do this, and further, making such a deal might free up enough money to acquire Carlos Beltran. An outfield of Patterson, Beltran and Encarnacion would be just fine with me.

Stay tuned, and remember where you heard it first.