All-Star right fielders Shawn Green and Sammy Sosa would switch teams in a trade proposal the Dodgers and Chicago Cubs plan to discuss at next week’s general manager meetings, baseball executives said Friday.
The clubs will explore a deal that would send Green to Chicago and bring Sosa -- the 1998 National League most valuable player -- to Los Angeles in an exchange of high-priced outfielders.
The Cubs were among the first teams to contact the Dodgers about acquiring Green, and baseball sources said Dodger General Manager Paul DePodesta and Cub General Manager Jim Hendry planned to pursue talks early during the meetings beginning Tuesday at Key Biscayne, Fla.
Green, who turns 32 on Wednesday, and Sosa, 36 on Friday, have no-trade clauses, and there are other potential contract hurdles to completing a deal that could be expanded to include additional players and teams.
However, the Cubs are determined to move forward in their attempts to trade Sosa because of his deteriorating relationship with Manager Dusty Baker, and the Dodgers are interested in excising Green’s salary from their payroll while adding another marquee middle-of-the-order hitter to a lineup that might not include star third baseman Adrian Beltre next season.
DePodesta was traveling Friday and unavailable for comment. In an interview Wednesday, DePodesta said he would not solicit offers but acknowledged there had been interest in Green.
“I’m not going to comment on specifics, but it’s fair to say I’ve received calls about a lot of our players, which is common for this time of the year,” he said. “I’ve had some preliminary talks about some things and I’m sure I’ll have some more [at the meetings].
“At this point, I haven’t ruled out anything. We’re going to listen to what’s out there.”
Green said his preference was to remain with the Dodgers but did not rule out waiving his no-trade clause.
“I’ve always envisioned myself finishing my career as a Dodger and I hope that’s still the situation,” said Green, whose six-year, $84-million contract ends next season. “If something else were to come up, I’d obviously have to deal with it when it came up.
“As of right now, I’m happy where I’m at. But if the Dodgers were to come to me and want to change direction ... I’ll listen to what they have to say.”
Green batted only .266 with 28 home runs and 86 runs batted in while being paid $16 million last season. The two-time All-Star was recovering from arthroscopic shoulder surgery the previous off-season and adjusting to playing first base for the first time.
He finished strong with 18 homers -- including some of the team’s most timely homers down the stretch run to the NL West title -- in the second half. He also had three homers in the postseason, but the Dodgers apparently believe Green’s best days are behind him.
Green, who bats left-handed, has a salary of $16 million in 2005, which would make him the team’s highest-paid player for the second consecutive season. DePodesta said re-signing Beltre was his top priority, but Beltre might receive a more lucrative offer after an MVP-caliber season. Acquiring Sosa could help fill a star-power void at Chavez Ravine.
Sosa, a seven-time All-Star, is among baseball’s most popular players with fans. Sosa, who bats right-handed, has 574 homers and more than 1,500 runs batted in during a 16-year career, including the last 13 seasons with the Cubs.
But he batted only .253 with 35 homers and 80 RBIs last season and clashed with Baker. The chasm widened as the Cubs collapsed with the NL wild-card berth at stake.
Sosa was fined $87,400 (one day’s salary) for arriving late to the Cubs’ final game of the season at Wrigley Field and leaving the game early. In responding to reporters’ questions about next season, Baker said he wanted Sosa to report to spring training in top shape. Sosa angrily said he was tired of Baker’s blaming him for the Cubs’ problems.
Sosa is guaranteed $17 million in 2005, and an $18-million option in 2006 becomes guaranteed if he is traded. Sosa’s contract also includes a $19-million option, or $4.5-million buyout, in 2007.
“You want to be wanted where you’re playing,” said Green, who holds the Dodger single-season franchise record for home runs. “That would be my concern if it got to a point where they came to me about something.
“I really don’t even want to speculate about this because I want to stay a Dodger. That’s where I’m at. Hopefully, it wouldn’t get to that point. Like I said, I’m hoping they want me to finish my career here.”
In trying to help fans cope with Friday traffic congestion, the Dodgers have moved the starting time for Friday games at Dodger Stadium from 7:10 to 7:40 p.m. All other night games remain at 7:10.
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Head to Head
Comparing right fielders Shawn Green and Sammy Sosa over the last four seasons:
*--* G HR RBI SO AVG 2001 161 49 125 107 297 2002 158 42 114 112 285 2003 160 19 85 112 280 2004 157 28 86 114 266 AVG. 159 35 103 111 282
*--* G HR RBI SO AVG 2001 160 64 160 153 328 2002 150 49 108 144 288 2003 137 40 103 143 279 2004 126 35 80 133 253 AVG. 143 47 113 143 289