Good luck to the Tribune Co. in their efforts to dump Sammy Sosa, though Michael Lewis-hating Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News cites some potential deals, though granted, they all involve trading sick salaries for each other.

The Chicago Cubs are exploring possible deals that would send Sosa to the New York Mets or the Seattle Mariners, but the Rockies are lurking in the background as a fallback possibility.

A key to any deal will be getting Sosa to waive a clause in his contract that guarantees the 2006 option if he is traded.

Sosa has a $17 million salary for 2005 with a $4.5 million buyout on an $18 million salary for 2006, and the Cubs aren’t willing to pick up anything more than the $21.5 million they are obligated to pay if Sosa remains in Chicago.

The Mets have a definite interest. They would like to make a move that could steal some attention from the Yankees, plus new Mets general manager Omar Minaya was the Texas Rangers scout in the Dominican Republic when Sosa signed.

Minaya’s special assistant, Sandy Johnson, was the Rangers’ scouting director who signed Sosa.

A Mets package would include outfielder Cliff Floyd, who originally signed a letter of intent to Creighton University when Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was the Creighton coach.

He wound up signing as a first-round draft choice with Montreal when Gary Hughes, Hendry’s top assistant, was the Expos’ scouting director.

Seattle is looking for a run-producing outfielder, which is why the Mariners are interested in Sosa.

Sitting on the side are the Rockies and outfielder Preston Wilson, who would be part of a package to the Cubs if the Rockies were to make a deal. Wilson also has drawn interest from Seattle and Texas.

“Anything you hear is very premature,” Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said during a break from sessions at the annual general managers meetings. “Teams are just looking around to see who might be available.”

Texas presents several interesting scenarios for the Rockies. They have a strong interest in Wilson as a potential outfielder/designated hitter, and Rangers officials have been doing some checking on the status of catcher Charles Johnson and left-handed pitcher Denny Neagle.

That gives credence to possible talks about right- handed pitcher Chan Ho Park, whom the Rangers would like to move.

Seattle also is considered a possibility for Park, who has two years and $29 million remaining on his contract, equal to the commitment the Rockies have with Neagle and Johnson.

Johnson is guaranteed $9 million in 2005 and has a $1 million bonus if he is traded, and Neagle has a 2005 guarantee of $11 million with a $9 million buyout on a $12.5 million option in 2006.