NEW YORK (Ticker) — Mark McGwire is gone, but Sammy Sosa is on his way back.
MLB.com reported Thursday that the Texas Rangers have reached an agreement in principle with Sosa, who is fifth on the all-time list with 588 home runs but did not play at all last season.
Sosa, 38, began his major league career as an outfielder with the Rangers, but played in just 25 games for them before being traded to the Chicago White Sox
“I’m all for it,” new Rangers manager Ron Washington told MLB.com. “Any time you can get a guy of his pedigree and background and attitude and (he) shows he still has his swing…I’m for it.”
A seven-time All-Star and a national hero in the Dominican Republic, Sosa is expected to receiver an incentive-laden $500,000 minor league contract.
Texas’ hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo was Sosa’s first manager back in 1986 with the Rangers’ Rookie League team in Sarasota, Florida.
“The main thing is his attitude and the kind of shape he is in,” Jaramillo told MLB.com. “He looked in really good shape. He has been swinging the bat and working out all winter.”
Sosa and McGwire will forever be connected for their joint assault on Roger Maris’ single-season home run in 1998. McGwire ended up on top with 70 home runs, but Sosa won the National League Most Valuable Player Award with 66 home runs and 158 RBI.
Between 1998-2001, Sosa compiled 243 home runs and became the first player in major league history to hit 60 or more homers in three consecutive seasons.
However, Sosa was suspended in 2004 for using a corked bat, but claimed he just used it during batting practice.
Sosa and McGwire were two of several prominent baseball players called to testify before Congress in March 2005 about steroids in baseball. While McGwire, who had retired by then, refused to talk about his past, while Sosa denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs.
After that congressional hearing, Sosa had an abysmal season with the Baltimore Orioles, hitting .221 with 14 home runs and 45 RBI in 102 games. His slugging percentage of .376 was 161 points lower than his career mark.
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Not sure what to think of this signing. I’m all for giving a guy a second chance but this could be a bad idea.
Sosa could cause some distractions to this team. With all the talks of steriods and Barry Bonds the Texas Rangers have put themselves in a situation that could turn ugly. On the flip side though Sosa is said to be in great shape and is not guaranteed a roster spot. If he turns out to be a 20 homer guy then the Rangers got a bargain and some extra tickets sold. I hesitate to call this deal anything close to good though. The Rangers could use the potential roster spot for someone better and cheap like Jason Botts. If Sosa makes the team then Botts loses at-bats, and Botts isn’t even considered a prospect anymore thanks to his age (26 going into the season, 27 in July). Botts needs those at-bats to prove he can hit and deserves those at-bats more than Sosa.
We’ll see how this turns out in spring training…
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