The Texas Rangers have offered Sammy Sosa a minor league contract and invitation to spring training, where the veteran slugger would have the chance to make the major league club.
MLB.com reported on Wednesday that the sides had agreed in principle on a deal but details needed to be worked out.
"Sammy seems hungry and somewhat humbled by the last two years,'' Texas general manager Jon Daniels said in an e-mail to ESPN.com. "This is about giving a second chance to a guy who did a lot for the game, and who wants an opportunity to prove he can contribute. We're not setting expectations, and he's not asking for anything other than a chance to compete."
It was not immediately clear how much the deal would be worth if Sosa were to make the major league club, but the source said that a big chunk of the money would be incentive-based.
"We've had productive discussions," Sosa's agent, Adam Katz,
told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Sosa worked out for Rangers officials at Ameriquest Field on Monday and later had dinner with Daniels. If Sosa were to come to terms with the team, he would report to Rangers spring training on Feb. 22 in Surprise, Arizona.
"He's strong. He's healthy," Rangers rookie manager Ron
Washington said Wednesday. "I saw good bat speed. The ball made a
lot of sound off his bat. I saw a great attitude. I saw a guy that
is very confident in his ability."
The relationship between the Rangers and Sosa would be nothing new. Sosa signed his first baseball contract with Texas 22 years ago out of the Dominican Republic, and after four years in the minors, he made his major league debut with the Rangers at age 20 in 1989. He hit .238 with one home run (off Roger Clemens at Fenway Park) and three RBIs before being traded to the Chicago White Sox.
"This is about giving a second chance to a guy who did a lot for the game, and who wants an opportunity to prove he can contribute. We're not setting expectations, and he's not asking for anything other than a chance to compete."
-- Rangers GM Jon Daniels
Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo managed Sosa in 1986 for the Rangers' rookie league team.
"He was just a little lost in his mechanical approach. When
that happens, bad things happen," Jaramillo said of Sosa's last season. "He started
losing his confidence."
Sosa, a seven time All-Star and author of three 60-plus home run seasons, has 588 homers in a 17-year career, but he hit just .221 with 14 round-trippers in 102 games with the Orioles in 2005 and did not play last year.
"It was a year [off] that he feels rejuvenated his mind and his
body and his desire to come on out and try to get back in the
game,'' Washington said. "He has to come into camp just like
everyone else and fight and win a job."
"I think I still have a lot to give in baseball," said Sosa last month, when he began to work out in the Dominican.
Sosa, 38, turned down a non-guaranteed contract worth $500,000 from the Washington Nationals and opted to sit out the 2006 season.
"Now, I would accept an offer similar to that of the Nationals last year," said Sosa recently.
Sosa would give the Rangers a much-needed right-handed bat in the outfield. Three of Texas' current outfielders are left-handed hitters -- Brad Wilkerson, Kenny Lofton and Frank Catalanotto.
Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com.