The talk in Chicago is that Sammy Sosa is on the trading block. The Chicago Tribune says the slugger has told friends he wants to stay in the National League, and would welcome a trade to the Mets, who are interested. The New York Post has been saying for a while that the Yankees are deeply interested in the 31-year-old star.
Sosa is a 10-year veteran who has played for the Cubs for more than five years, so he can veto any trade. He won't be a free agent until after the 2001 season, so his trading value is still high. It will be less so as free agency draws nearer.
But why would a man all but worshipped by the Windy City approve a trade?
Because it's the Cubs, folks. The Cubs, who last appeared in the World Series in 1945 and who last won it in 1908. The Cubs, lovable losers languishing nine games behind St. Louis in the NL Central, tied with Milwaukee for fourth place.
The latest genius Cubs move was by new manager Don Baylor, who has taken potshots at the slugger all season for not being a more complete player, not stealing more bases, not playing defense the way, well, better than Sammy Sosa plays defense.
This is a guy who hit 66 and 63 home runs the past two years and, along with Mark McGwire, helped put baseball back on fans' good side (by taking their minds off the endless squabbling over realignment and finances). The Cubs' last post-season appearance, in '98, would have been unthinkable without him. He's hitting .306 with 19 homers and 58 RBIs. A search for a comparable player on the Cubs roster bears no fruit.
Sosa and Baylor say they worked out their problems last week, and Sosa's agent, Adam Katz, says the outfielder wants to stay with the Cubs. Sosa also wants a contract extension that would make him the highest-paid player in the game, something the Cubs have shown no interest in.
Katz also says Sosa was just joking when he walked through the clubhouse last week saying, "Hey, everybody, I'm going to New York."