CHICAGO (AP) -- One word, and Fred McGriff goes from the worst team in baseball to the best in the NL.
McGriff is considering waiving his no-trade clause and accepting a deal that would send him from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs and Devil Rays have agreed on the deal's terms, and are just waiting for McGriff's OK, a Cubs source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Wednesday.
No decision is expected before Thursday, the source said. If McGriff agrees to the trade, the Devil Rays would get prospects in return.
"When it will be resolved, I don't know," Devil Rays manager Hal McRae said. "He's our best player as of today, and it would devastate the ballclub, but we have a direction. It is to go young and give the young players an opportunity to play."
While McGriff's choice might seem simple, he's a Tampa, Fla., native and likes playing at home. He's also having one of his most productive seasons, hitting a team-high .330 with 53 RBIs and 15 home runs.
McGriff didn't attend the optional workout the Devil Rays had Wednesday before they left for Montreal, but he often goes straight from his house to the airport when the team leaves on an off day. His equipment bag was on the team bus.
McGriff was not expected in Montreal until Thursday afternoon, when the Devil Rays have a mandatory workout.
"Freddie's a huge part of this team," said Steve Cox, who would take McGriff's place at first base if the trade goes through. "He's doing the best on the team right now. He's the kind of guy you don't want to see his bat out of the lineup."
Jim Krivacs, McGriff's agent, could not be reached for comment. Neither could Andy MacPhail, the Cubs president and general manager, nor Tampa Bay GM Chuck LaMar.
The Cubs, in first place at the All-Star break for only the third time since World War II, are looking to bolster their offense for the stretch run. McGriff fits the bill. Once one of the most respected power hitters in the game, he's one of only two players to hit 200 home runs in both the AL and NL. He has 432 career homers.
He's hitting .347 against right-handers this season and would give Sammy Sosa some much-needed protection in the lineup. Halfway through the season, Sosa has already drawn a career-high 21 intentional walks.
What's in the deal for the Devil Rays? At 27-61, they have the worst record in baseball and are looking to shed their high-priced veterans in exchange for prospects. Already this season, the Devil Rays have released Vinny Castilla ($7 million) and Gerald Williams ($3 million).
"We're in last place, and we've won 27 ballgames," McRae said. "I know we're going to take our lumps, but I know we have a direction and we have to stay the course."
Among active Tampa Bay players, McGriff has the second-highest salary, earning $6.5 million this year. Greg Vaughn makes $8.25 million.
Pitcher Wilson Alvarez is the highest-paid Devil Ray with a contract that pays him $9 million this year, but he's been on the disabled list since the start of the 2000 season.
"If we do trade Fred McGriff or Greg Vaughn, I don't think you could judge a deal purely from a standpoint of who we get back," LaMar said Wednesday. "We would be moving a significant amount of salary for years to come."
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