So the Sammy deal is official. Here's the way it breaks down financially.
The Cubs will pay $8.15M of Sosa's $17M 2005 salary with the Orioles picking up the remaining $8.85M. The Cubs will also have to pay $3.5M in severence and Sammy's $4.5M 2006 buyout which is now called a "bonus". So all told the Cubs will spend $16.15M on Sosa for 2005, which is just shy of his salary.
Total, the Cubs would have owed Sosa $17M for this year and the $4.5M buyout for 2006 totalling $21.5M. In other words, the Cubs ended up paying Sosa three quarters of his guaranteed money to not play for them. That's a pretty good deal if you're Sosa.
But in addition to the $16.15M outlay for Sosa in 2005 they're now paying around $2M for the trio of Hairston, Crouthers, and Fontenot and $4.5M for Jeremy Burnitz (with a $500K buyout for 2006 that I'm betting they'll end up taking). The grand total the Cubs will spend on this deal is $22.85M in 2005, raising their payroll by over $5M. To put it in perspective their outlay on rightfielders will be $20.65M in 2005.
And what did they get?
They replaced the 36 year-old Sosa with the 36 year-old Burnitz and picked up a 29 year-old utility infielder and outfielder in Hairston and a couple of minor leaguers. I didn't mention Burnitz as an option in my previous post because I didn't think he was one. At his age and given his dramatic decline since 2001 (partially masked by playing in Denver last season) I wouldn't have thought he would be considered. His plate discipline seems to have largerly disappeared although his power is still there. So here's how his numbers compare to Sosa's since 2001.
PA G OPS NOPS/PF
2004 539 126 849 109
2003 589 137 911 123
2002 666 150 993 135
2001 711 160 1174 158
PA G OPS NOPS/PF
2004 606 150 916 110
2003 246 61 643 89
2003 259 65 925 124
2002 550 154 677 94
2001 651 154 851 111
In 2003 Burnitz played for both the Mets and the Dodgers (in New York is where he put up the 124 NOPS/PF) so his combined performance works out to 107. Quick aside: NOPS/PF is the normalized OPS taking into account the Batter Park Factor to adjust for the context in which each played.
Burnitz and Sosa played at essentially the same level last year although Sosa's decline started from a much higher peak season in 2001 and he put up higher numbers in each of the previous three seasons. Burnitz appears to be the more durable although less consistent player during this time.
In the end I don't think the acquisition of Burnitz is an upgrade but rather a lateral move with a significant amount of risk. What is clear is that the Cubs and Sosa were desparate to part company and so both gave up lots of money to do so.