Sosa for SledgeIt's nice of Blogger to finally let me post (the few times I tried yesterday, I was getting a page not found error). There is talk of the Nats once again pursuing Larkin for a bench role, since no one is going to offer him a starting job (a shame, since he's better than our starter). It sounds like it may either be Nats or retirement for him.
The major rumor from yesterday is that talk of a trade for Sosa is happening again. According to some sources, we may be willing to pick up some of Sosa's salary. Other sources report that we'll take him off the Cubs' hands, as long as it costs us nothing.
I can't believe talks would turn back on if we hadn't budged from our position, which, from the Cubs' perspective is 100% unreasonable. Since we're probably not going to end up breaking the bank for pitching (there's not much out there worth having, even through trade), and since Bowden has a wad of cash burning a hole in his pocket, this all seems a lot more realistic to me than it did a month ago.
I already commented on this rumor when talk was for Wilkerson, not Sledge. That was a bad move from a numbers point of view, but I would have understood it from a marketing perspective. Whereas Wilkerson is clearly more valuable on the field than Sosa, Sledge is another matter. Last year, they had about even OBPs, and Sosa had an OPS that was 50 points higher. To be fair, Sledge got off to a slow start last year, but Sammy was still more valuable, even throwing out the first month.
The question is, how much will Sledge improve, and how much will Sosa decline? I think there's a good chance that if he is in an environment where he feels happy and welcome, Sosa won't be any worse than last year (by far, his worst year in a long, long time). Sledge will probably be incrementally better next year, but he's pretty much at his peak, which, while good, still isn't quite as good as Sosa in his decline. Sledge has more long-term value, since Sosa will retire within a few years, but if money weren't an issue, I think Sosa would be the choice.
And then there's the value Sosa brings to the club, simply because he's Slammin' Sammy. More people will come to see a superstar. They'll sell more jerseys. Yes, optics are incredibly important and valuable. With the Mets making so many splashy moves, bringing in Sosa will at least make it look like we're doing everything we can to not get left behind in the dust. Heck, if the Marlins land Delgato instead of the Mets, we'll need to make this move just to appear like we're keeping pace with them!
In so far as the deal goes, Sosa is owed $17M in 2005, and $18M in 2006 if he is traded. Reports are that, to get out of Chicago, Sosa is willing to budge on the 2006 numbers, but I doubt the player's union would be too happy about that. More than likely, he'd have to restructure it, deferring a big chunk of it into 2007 and maybe 2008, then sign an extension at a below-market value. That way, the dollars are nominally 2006 dollars, but really go to his 2007/2008 contract.
If something like that makes sense to all parties and actually comes to pass, I could imagine we'd ship out Sledge and a prospect to Chicago in exchange for Sosa and $9 to $10M of his salary. Then, I could see sammy getting a 2 year, $8-$12M extension keeping him in Washington through 2008, and deferring $8M of his 2006 money over two years.
From a pure perspective of production per dollar spent, this probably wouldn't be a good deal, but when you consider the offset in additional revenue, it seems like it could be a reasonable move. It certainly wouldn't be the deal of the century, but I would probably pull the trigger, if I were Bowden.