Cubs close to deal with Burnitz
Sammy Sosa was closer to becoming property of the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night. And his soon-to-be former team, the Cubs, were close to replacing some of his power with free-agent outfielder Jeromy Burnitz.
The Cubs and Orioles agreed to a trade Friday that would send the seven-time All-Star to Baltimore for Jerry Hairston Jr. and two prospects.
A source familiar with the trade discussions told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that Sosa won't demand that the Orioles extend his contract before approving his trade from Chicago.
The source indicated Sosa and Orioles executives have expressed mutual interest in a two-year extension to Sosa's contract, which expires after this season. However, the source said there is "no rush" on either end to negotiate that extension.
ESPN's Pedro Gomez reported the Orioles will fly Sosa from the Dominican Republic to Baltimore on Tuesday for a team physical. Hairston underwent his physical Monday in the Phoenix area.
Several sources said Monday they don't expect any hangups to develop to prevent this deal from being finalized late in the week. Commissioner Bud Selig is expected to sign off on the trade as soon as Tuesday, a senior Major League Baseball official told ESPN's Karl Ravech. Monday night, the union said it won't object to Sosa waiving the clause in his current contract which would vest his 2006 option if he is traded.
Sosa would not be waiving the $4.5 million buyout on that option year. According to one source familiar with the negotiations, the Cubs have agreed to be responsible for that money, along with about $8 million of Sosa's $17-million contract for this season.
The teams have started the process of submitting documents outlining the trade to the commissioner's office, but all the necessary paperwork had not been sent in as of Monday night.
Meanwhile, the Cubs neared an agreement Monday night with Burnitz on a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2006, The Associated Press reported. That deal wouldn't be finalized until the Sosa trade is completed.
Burnitz hit 37 homers and drove in 110 runs for the Colorado Rockies last season. Sosa hit .253 last year, his lowest average since 1997, and had 35 homers and 80 RBIs in 126 games.
Sosa's agent, Adam Katz, declined comment on all contract issues when reached Monday for reaction. Asked whether an extension would emerge from Sosa's trade to Baltimore, Katz replied: "Perhaps. Other than that, I have nothing to say on that subject."
|RBI||1,414||3rd||Cap Anson (1,879)|
|Games||1,811||9th||Ernie Banks (2,528)|
|Total Bases||3,980||4th||Banks (4,706)|
|Extra-base Hits||873||2nd||Banks (1,009)|
Katz described Sosa as being upbeat about winding up in Baltimore, which he'd been telling friends for some time was his first choice.
"We're hopeful this will be a long-term relationship," Katz said. "When we looked at some of the American League clubs where Sammy could have gone and had an opportunity to DH [at least part-time], it's easy to see why Baltimore was the best fit. The ballpark, the lineup -- it was just a good fit."
In the meantime, the Cubs, had been assembling a shopping list of potential right-field replacements for Sosa.
Besides Burnitz, Chicago looked into free agent Magglio Ordonez, one executive who has spoken with the Cubs told Stark. But the Cubs are believed to have no interest in giving Ordonez a deal longer than two years.
Detroit and Ordonez exchanged proposals last week, and Texas has expressed interest.
The Cubs also are expected to explore what it would take to trade for Tampa Bay's Aubrey Huff and Oakland's Eric Byrnes. But they're said to be less than optimistic about matching up with the Devil Rays and unsure whether Byrnes would provide the kind of production they're looking for.
The Cubs are offering reliever Kyle Farnsworth as the centerpiece of any deal, an official of one team that has spoken with Chicago told Stark.
The Mets' Cliff Floyd and the Reds' Austin Kearns also have shown up on the Cubs' list at various points this winter. But Floyd has two years left on his contract and wouldn't seem as attractive if he weren't being swapped for another big contract like Sosa's. And there have been no indications the Reds are hot on moving Kearns, despite nonstop rumors -- particularly within their own division.
Information from ESPN.com senior writer Jayson Stark and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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