Winter Meetings: Sosa Staying Put ?

<b>ANAHEIM – </b>Who will take Sammy Sosa off the Cubs' hands? Apparently, no one. <br><br> Though Chicago would happily entertain offers for the 36-year-old outfielder, there does not appear to be a lineup of clubs ready to assume Sosa's hefty contract, diminishing numbers and questionable body makeup for the 2005 season.

Thus, with a slew of safer outfield bets available on the free agent market, it is a reasonably safe bet to believe that the Cubs will be leaving Anaheim with Sosa securely locked in tow.

"I just don't see anyone jumping to take that money," one person familiar with Sosa's situation told "It's too much [for] too many years and we still don't even know what the MLBPA situation is going to be."

According to previously published reports, Sosa had lobbied the MLB Player's Association to allow him to drop a clause in his contract that would guarantee the 2006 season at a price of $18 million if he were to be traded.

That's considered too large a sum for an aging outfielder who is most likely past his prime and saw his stats drop in 2004 to a .256 average with 35 homers and 80 RBI – reasonably strong numbers indeed, but pricey at a 2005 cost of $17 million and a far cry from Sosa's electrifying numbers of the late 1990s, including the famous 66-homer 1998 season.

Also of concern to potential suitors, one of which was the New York Mets, is Sosa's noticeably smaller frame. As the BALCO case rages on, swallowing up players like Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds, Sosa has not been exempt from whispers.

As such, the Cubs appear to be preparing for life with Sosa for one final season, despite the fact that the team captain walked out on the team in the final weekend of the season. He also managed to have harsh words for Cubs manager Dusty Baker in 2004, widely considered an easy-going player favorite.

"The things that happened [with Sosa] are not unrepairable," Hendry told Thursday. "We have a manager who is top of the line as far as relationships with human beings and getting along with players. I don't see anything that happened that could be a detriment in 2005 to us having a good ball club and us being able to win."

Bryan Hoch is in Anaheim covering the Winter Meetings for

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