Quick 411: Sammy Sosa

Seven to ten days... a week ago, that was the time frame a source had given the <I>Chicago Sun-Times</I> upon which the Cubs were expected to be able to complete a trade involving Sammy Sosa--an early Christmas present that would allow the Cubs to make a series of off-season moves in the New Year.<p> Can Jim Hendry move the slugger before the holiday season?

In all likelihood, the answer should be a resounding "No." Sosa's contract and the availability of options in the free agent market are making it difficult for the Cubs to find a direct suitable trade partner. Most teams on record are willing to receive Sosa, but only if the Cubs pay much of what he's owed. That list of teams is quite extensive.

Why shouldn't it be?

A future Hall of Fame player on the clearance rack is a bargain any day of the week. Intelligently, Hendry won't give Sosa away for next to nothing, treating every scenario with a great deal of respect.

The New York Mets appear to be the No. 1 destination for Sosa. The rumors have persisted since the beginning of the off-season, with Mets GM Omar Minaya expressing his interest in the slugger on numerous occasions. In exchange, the Mets are hoping to involve Cliff Floyd, whom Minaya is trying aggressively to move during the cold winter months.

The only thing preventing the deal from being done is other executives' desires on attempting to acquire free agents still in the mix before getting formally involved with Sosa. Not only does this include the likes of Carlos Delgado, Moises Alou and Manny Ramirez, but also the very same Carlos Beltran the Cubs are trying to acquire themselves.

Knowing that the Cubs are trying to trade Sosa to then make a run for Beltran, the Mets should be unwilling to concede the race before even making an offer to the young star.

The Baltimore Orioles are another recently rumored destination. The Cubs are interested in closer Jorge Julio and either OF Jay Gibbons or INF Jerry Hairston. The main problem with this scenario is the Orioles themselves.

The O's are not in agreement on how much money the Cubs should assume from Sosa's contract, with rumors speculating that Baltimore wants the Cubs to eat as much as 80 percent. To make this scenario happen, the Orioles would need to weaken their monetary demands or simply increase their offering to a level just too hard for the Cubs to pass on.

Then there are the teams that want to swap heavy contracts. The Atlanta Braves are interested in Sosa only if the Cubs take on left-hander Mike Hampton. With $43M remaining on his enormous contract from 2006-08, this is only a remote possibility.

The Kansas City Royals, Colorado Rockies and Texas Rangers are also deeply interested in swapping bad contracts with the Cubs, but all three have been publicly rejected by Hendry.

Likewise, the Washington Nationals, Florida Marlins, Oakland Athletics, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays have also expressed public interest, but only if the Cubs pay the entire amount owed to Sosa.

As it stands, the trend is clear. Moving Sosa is a difficult task, but that doesn't mean the Cubs are out of options. Involving multiple teams in the deal could make existing scenarios more feasible, and one can never underestimate the possible presence of a dark horse.

Above all, if there is one thing Cubs fans can trust, it's general manager Jim Hendry's ability to turn the impossible into the possible.

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