George Bell, a former most valuable player in the American League, was traded Monday by the Chicago Cubs to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Sammy Sosa, left-handed relief pitcher Ken Patterson and an unspecified amount of cash.
Bell, a nine-year veteran, spent seven years with the Toronto Blue Jays before signing as a free agent with the Cubs in December of 1990, for a guaranteed $9.8 million over three years.
"We got the guy we wanted," said Ron Schueler, White Sox general manager. "We got the pure hitter."
Bell, 32, has averaged 154 games, 28 home runs and 100 runs batted in during his eight full seasons in the major leagues. He won the MVP award in 1987 after hitting .308 with 47 home runs and 134 RBIs.
The left fielder hit .285 with 25 home runs and 86 RBIs last year.
Bell has appeared in three All-Star games--1987, 1990 and 1991.
"What we're giving up is an outstanding hitter," said Larry Himes, the Cubs' general manager. "George will always be a good hitter, and he's going to fit in very well in the White Sox lineup."
Bell's addition bolsters a strong lineup that already includes Tim Raines, Steve Sax, Robin Ventura, Frank Thomas, Dan Pasqua, Carlton Fisk and Ozzie Guillen.
Bell had his difficulties in Toronto, where he criticized management and the fans.
But in his only season with the Cubs he seemed to get along with everyone and produced a solid season. He averaged one home run every 22.3 at-bats last year, his best production since 1987.
On the negative side, Bell led all major league outfielders with 10 errors last season, so there's a possibility he will also be used as a designated hitter by the White Sox. They have been looking for a designated hitter since Bo Jackson's hip problems made him unavailable this season.
Sosa batted .203 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 116 games with the White Sox last season. He was sent to triple-A Vancouver for a little more than a month last season and hit .267 with three home runs and 19 RBIs before being recalled. He adds speed and defense to the Cubs' outfield.
"I'm going to go over there and play every day," Sosa said. "That's what I need, to go over there and do what I know I can do."
Patterson was 3-0 with a 2.83 earned-run average and one save for the White Sox last season.
"We'll have six men in the bullpen, the first time the Cubs have done this," Himes said.
He called Sosa "an outstanding defensive ballplayer, who will add speed to our ballclub. We were the worst team in allowing doubles last year, and with Sammy that's going to change."
Bell will make $3.6 million this season, including one-third of his $1.5 million signing bonus. Sosa's salary is $180,000 and Patterson will make $640,000.