"Honestly, I think it's a million-to-one against," said Washington GM Jim Bowden at the time. Bowden supposedly has a $50 million budget for the 2005 campaign. He added, "I'm going to pay zero."
Reports indicate he might have a change of heart.
Bowden has since been in contact with Cubs GM Jim Hendry about a possible deal for the star right fielder. The talks were of a preliminary nature, and there would be quite a bit of work to get done before a deal could be struck, but the Nationals are trying to create a splash in their first season in the Washington area. A Sosa signing would make big news.
Sosa, slated to make $17 million in 2005, will have an automatic $18 million option kick in for 2006 if he is traded.
The Nationals, who were moved from Montreal, are still owned by Major League Baseball. But in the next couple of months, they are expected to be sold to independent owners.
The Cubs say they are not going to just give Sosa away and that any deal would have to make sense from their perspective. Sosa is a long-time star with the Cubs, but fell out of favor with fans, teammates and management when he left the final game of the season early and without permission from Hendry or manager Dusty Baker.
Sosa also had some uncomplimentary remarks about Baker earlier this off-season.
Catcher Paul Bako signed a one-year deal with Los Angeles. Bako was a backup to Damian Miller and Michael Barrett the last two seasons but became expandable when the Cubs signed Henry Blanco to a two-year deal in December.
Free agent outfielder Magglio Ordonez could be in the Cubs' plans for an outfield spot even though he had two surgeries on his left knee in 2004. Ordonez is scheduled to work out for teams later in the month, and the Cubs might be one of several teams taking a look at him.
RHP Chad Fox agreed to a one-year minor league deal with the Cubs, and the 34-year-old pitcher will join the team in spring training camp as a non-roster invitee. Fox is 10-11 with a 3.45 ERA in 203 major league relief appearances with Atlanta, Milwaukee, Boston and Florida.
LHP Stephen Randolph was acquired from Arizona for a player to be named later. He'll compete for the spot of No. 2 left-hander in the bullpen behind Mike Remlinger.
BY THE NUMBERS: .210—Average that opponents hit off Randolph during his 89 career relief appearances with Arizona.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think that would be a tremendous and fun trip for Cubs fans and baseball fans across the country if he made it this year. I'll be rooting for him as I always have." —Ryne Sandberg on hoping that Cubs legend Ron Santo makes it to the Hall of Fame through the voting of the veterans' committee.