The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mike Kiley on the Cubs’ next move following Carlos Beltran’s departure from the NL Central.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry will be re-examining his ability to trade Sosa this week when he reassesses his options now that Beltran has a tentative agreement with the New York Mets for seven years, $119 million.

Sosa might even be on the agenda when Mets general manager Omar Minaya has dinner tonight at the White House with President Bush, who approved Sosa’s ill-advised exit from the Texas Rangers when his executive decisions were less monumental than now.

When Minaya is done dining in high society, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry expects to learn if Minaya still has a desire to return to the bargaining table and resume working on a deal this week for Sosa.

The Cubs would likely get left fielder Cliff Floyd in any Mets swap, but that probably won’t be the major issue. The sticking point will be how low Sosa is willing to go in committing to a 2006 salary with his new club.

If Sosa continues to ask for $10 million to $12 million to replace an option year set in his contract to be $18 million for ’06 if he is traded, Hendry will have more difficulty moving him. If Sosa is willing to agree to $8 million for ’06 with his new club, that would be a sign by him that he wants out of Chicago at all costs and it could ignite a deal.

Privately, the Cubs couldn’t be happier that the Mets are prepared to pay Beltran $119 million for the next seven years, including an $11 million signing bonus. His departure from the National League Central means that the Cubs won a valuable consolation prize in being among the losers for Beltran’s services.

After all, the Cubs never were tempted for a moment to buy into agent Scott Boras’ demands that Beltran had to get a seven-year contract term. Truth be told, they never exchanged a specific figure with Boras that they intended to pay Beltran over five or six years. Boras never delved that far into the matter, not interested in having Beltran look at Chicago as a five or six-year commitment at $15 million to $16 million a year.

The Cubs haven’t taken serious looks at two free agent outfielders — former White Sox right fielder Magglio Ordonez or Jeromy Burnitz. If they can’t trade Sosa, sources indicated that they are unlikely to consider signing Ordonez to start in left.

If Sosa goes, Ordonez will be considered at that time. But the Cubs presently are extremely leery of the condition of Ordonez’s troublesome knee. They would require extensive medical workups on him before pursuing him very far.

In addition to the Mets, Baltimore, Washington and Kansas City appear to be the teams that still could be interested in Sosa. The Cubs are committed to $21.5 million to Sosa in 2005 with a $17 million salary and a buyout.

Free agent Carlos Delgado, already mulling an offer from Baltimore, is reportedly meeting with the Mets later this week.

In items we failed to cover from this past weekend, Ruben Sierra re-signed with the Yankees , backup 1B/occasional pitcher David McCarty signed a minor league contract with Boston (perhaps setting the stage for a trade of Doug Mientkiewcz), and SS Tony Batista will be taking his bizarre batting stance to Japan’s Fukuoka Hawks.