It appears increasingly likely that Sosa has played his final game as a Cub, a departure that was hastened by his early clubhouse departure on the last day of the season.
Sosa arrived 70 minutes before game time on Oct. 3 and headed to the parking lot 15 minutes after the game started without ever putting his uniform on, a flagrant act of misconduct that cost the outfielder $87,500 in team fines.
Seven years ago, Sosa captivated the nation with his 66 home run campaign in pursuit of Roger Maris' single-season record, a memorable summer in which both he and Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire shattered Maris' mark of 61.
Now 35, Sosa is still a dangerous presence at the plate, but probably will never again approach the lethal nature of his 1998 statistics. This past season, the injury-plagued outfielder hit just .253 while smacking 35 homers and driving in 85 runs.
For the Mets, however, Sosa could make sense. Reports out of Chicago have the Cubs as set upon dealing him this season, and Minaya – looking to make a splash in his first winter at the helm of the Mets – could offer Cliff Floyd, who grew up blocks from Comiskey Park and upset the Mets this season with his outspoken comments about how there was "no light at the end of the tunnel," among other incidents.
Floyd has been a solid clubhouse presence in his two seasons as a Met, but he has had trouble staying on the field – he missed a significant amount of time in both years, hitting .260 with 18 homers and 63 RBI in just 113 games in 2004.
The hangup for the Mets would be assuming Sosa's large contract, which potentially puts an acquiring team on the hook for $39.5 million – Sosa is due $17 million for 2005 and, if he is traded, his $18 million for 2006 becomes guaranteed. A 2007 club option for $19 million is then triggered with a $4.5 million buyout.
GM Omar Minaya has also been reported to have his eye on Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez, a story that appeared in Friday's Newsday, although it's considered extremely unlikely that Boston would deal Ramirez just weeks after he was named World Series MVP.
The Mets are also said to have interest in free agents Magglio Ordonez and Moises Alou. Jermaine Dye and Richard Hidalgo, who came to the Mets this past year in a midseason trade, are also possibilities, with Victor Diaz – who impressed the team with his live bat during a September callup – likely dropping to a fall-back position.