Mets execs discuss Sosa

The Mets appear to be moving closer to an all-out pursuit of Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa. <P> According to reports published in <I>Newsday</I> and the <I>Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger</I>, team executives huddled for several hours yesterday to discuss the pros and cons of trading for the 36-year-old outfielder.

The talks came on the heels of an apparently successful lobby by Sosa and his representatives to nix an $18 million option for the 2006 season that was scheduled to kick in if he was traded.

Because such a massive chunk of change would likely preclude a trade to any organization, the MLB Players Association has agreed to dump the clause from Sosa's contract – a different scenario than the Alex Rodriguez trade last winter, since Rodriguez and the Boston Red Sox were attempting to discount guaranteed money from the shortstop's 10-year deal with the Texas Rangers.

The Mets are said to be ready to trade Chicago native Cliff Floyd, who has two years remaining at $13 million, to the Cubs in exchange for Sosa.

However -- assuming the MLBPA allows Sosa to drop his option, as expected -- that still leaves $4 million of a difference between the salary owed to Floyd and that of Sosa, who will make $17 million for the 2005 season. The Mets have said that they will not take on additional payroll to accept Sosa, so the Cubs may need to take on the difference.

The question, which was assuredly raised by executives at Monday's meetings, is would the Mets be receiving a star in decline? In 2004, Sosa posted his lowest batting average since 1997, hitting .253 with 35 homers and 80 RBI while displaying a physique that shrunk noticeably from his power-hitting glory days of the late 1990s.

Sosa also proved moody, walking out on the Cubs' final game of the regular season on Oct. 3 and complaining about a perceived lack of support from manager Dusty Baker.

However, Sosa's statistics still trumped the numbers produced by any player on the 2004 Mets. His marketing potential in New York would also prove far greater than any player on the roster, including star Mike Piazza -- the subject of recent trade rumors himself.

Lowe and behold

The Mets have informed Derek Lowe's agent, Scott Boras, that the team has interest in the sinker-baller, according to the New York Post.

Fresh off of Boston's miracle run to the world championship, Lowe could prove to be a good fit if the right-hander wound up at Shea Stadium – a ground ball pitcher in what is widely regarded as a tough offensive park.

However, Lowe won't come cheap, especially in light of his postseason heroics. During the regular season, Lowe went 14-12 with a 5.42 ERA in 33 starts, but he earned his true mettle in October: Lowe came out of the bullpen in Game 3 of the Division Series against the Angels to earn the series-clinching victory, and then – pitching on two days rest – held the Yankees to one run on one hit through six innings in Game 7 of the Championship Series.

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