Word out of the Nationals' camp last month was that they would consider dealing for Sosa only if the Cubs paid his entire 2005 commitment: a $17 million salary and a $4.5 million buyout for 2006. But Bowden has altered that stance after the Cubs told him at the winter meetings that they wouldn't accept the entire financial burden and weren't interested in dumping Sosa at any cost.Even if the Nats fail to land a future Hall of Famer for free, any deal will, of course, be all about the money.
If (Cubs GM Jim) Hendry and Bowden can find common ground, the key element will be how much Sosa is willing to accept for his 2006 salary. While Sosa's contract with the Cubs guarantees an $18million salary if he is traded, that figure can be negotiated. Agent Adam Katz is believed to have told clubs that Sosa would not play for less than $10 million in 2006.I wouldn't be so quick to insist on a bargain basement price for Sosa. Despite all his flaws--past his prime, concerned with batting order position to the detriment of the team, steriod suspiscions, etc.--he still can sell seats. The magic of his home run battle with McGwire still lingers. It's not difficult to make a case that the presence of Sosa could sell an addition 50,000 seats at home game. That's just about 625 more per game. At an average of $20 a ticket, that's $10 million in additonal revenue right there.
If Sosa really doesn't want to return for another year under Cubs manager Dusty Baker, he can help broker his exit by lowering his financial demands. He would be more attractive to other clubs at $8million for 2006
Even if the dollars are right, there will be the question of what Washington will give up in compensation. The Cubs' asking price is not likely to be very high, a combination of a few prospects and suspects. Still, you have to be very careful about having an adverse impact on the team's future for a brief bump in ticket sales and a few more wins.
Of course, with the team still being in a state of receivership rather than one of ownership, a bold stroke such as bringing in Sosa isn't likely to happen. But the position of owner has yet to be filled.
The reality is that it's probably better that Sammy Sosa is someone else's potential headache and someone else's employee to pay. Still, it would add some pizzaz to a team that desperately lacks it.