Sammy Sosa walked disgruntledly out of Wrigley Field in the middle of his final game with the Cubs back in October 2004. He was fined $87,400 for going AWOL and the Cubs traded him before the start of the 2005 season to the Orioles for Jerry Hairston Jr., Mike Fontenot and Dave Crouthers.
The relationship between Sosa and the Cubs has been strained since that incident — and the PED stuff hasn’t helped — but it might be time to let bygones be bygones. Here’s new team chairman Tom Ricketts, speaking in front of fans and reporters Saturday at the annual Cubs Convention in downtown Chicago:
“When we got here, there wasn’t much communication and we just really haven’t focused on it,” said Ricketts. “But maybe it’s an issue we pick up this year and see what we can do about it.”
“With Sammy, it’s awkward. I think over time there will be a good solution for all this stuff. But obviously we saw what happened with the Hall of Fame voting this year. I don’t know. It would be nice to put this chapter to rest and just welcome back all the guys who were from that era who were suspected of doing whatever.”
Those quotes come courtesy of CSNChicago.com’s Patrick Mooney. Sosa hit .284/.358/.569 with 545 home runs and 1,414 RBI in his 13-year stay with the Cubs. He owns several prominent franchise records.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.