The rumors are flying. Some are saying that the Royals are in talks with the Cubs to work out a deal that would fill KC's need for a power hitting corner outfielder. Sammy Sosa is guaranteed $17 million in 2005 and $18 million in 2006 if he is traded. Those are outrageous numbers for the small-market Royals.
So, why has this rumor persisted? Because the Cubs are supposedly willing to eat a good portion of Sosa's contract just to get rid of him.
The numbers look good. Sosa batted .253 with 35 HRs and 80 RBI in 478 AB in 2004. Good numbers indeed.
The Royals say they are interested in Sosa, but not if it means giving up any of their "core, young players." Is Mike Sweeney considered "core" or "young?" The Royals have a surplus of 1B/DH players, and Sweeney has a history of injuries. So, it might make sense to trade him for a player like Sosa.
Sweeney hit .287 in 2004. He had 22 HRs and 79 RBI in 411 AB. Good numbers. In fact, very similar numbers to Sosa.
Sosa is 36, Sweeney is 31. Considering the research that's been done recently on career trajectories (like that by my friend Dan Fox), Sosa's numbers are likely to decline fairly rapidly. Sweeney has long been the heart of the Royals team, and is a huge fan favorite.
Would it be wise to give up Sweeney for a player whose current team seems desperate to part ways with? I don't think so. I don't see the benefit of a Sweeney/Sosa swap.
I think the Royals should continue their original plan of finding a younger middle of the road outfielder who can drive in runs. (Austin Kearns, anyone?)