|Tuesday, July 10
Updated: July 13, 1:05 AM ET
McGriff deal in 'holding pattern'
CHICAGO -- Fred McGriff hasn't said yes. Then again, he hasn't said no yet, either.
McGriff was in Tampa Bay's lineup Thursday night against Montreal, batting fourth. But he apparently is still trying to decide whether to waive his no-trade clause and accept a trade that would send him to the Chicago Cubs.
"I've got a contract, I've got a no-trade clause -- that's about it," McGriff said before the Devil Rays interleague game against the Expos.
"Nothing's ever dead," he added. "We've got until July 31st, or whatever. I've got to do what I've got to do, everybody else has got to do what they've got to do."
Earlier in the day, Cubs president and general manager Andy MacPhail said he was still waiting for an answer from McGriff. There's no deadline, and MacPhail said he'll give the first baseman the time he needs to make up his mind.
The Cubs and Devil Rays have agreed to a trade that would give Tampa Bay two prospects in exchange for McGriff. But McGriff has a no-trade clause and must approve the deal.
Tampa Bay general manager Chuck LaMar was traveling and unavailable for comment.
"It's just going to take Fred a couple of days to work through things, and I certainly respect that," MacPhail said before the Cubs 5-1 victory over the crosstown rival White Sox.
"He had the no-trade provision in there for a reason. That's his home and he wanted to stay close to his family," MacPhail added. "There are certain elements that are unique to Wrigley Field, particularly this summer, which I think are very attractive to him. So we will be patient and give Fred the time that he needs to make his decision."
McGriff was on the Devil Rays flight to Montreal on Wednesday night, fueling speculation he would invoke his no-trade clause. But manager Hal McRae said McGriff told him during the trip that he hadn't made up his mind.
"He had no answers," McRae said. "He was upbeat about the uncertainty, but he didn't have any answers. Maybe he still doesn't."
McGriff skipped a mandatory team workout Thursday afternoon, showing up at the stadium about 2 1/2 hours before the ballgame. Another lineup card went up shortly after he arrived, and McGriff wasn't on it as either a starter or a reserve.
But that lineup was wrong, possibly put up by someone as a prank.
"As of right now, I'm getting ready to go and play a game right now," McGriff said. "That's it."
Going from Tampa Bay, baseball's worst team in the first half, to the Cubs, who have the NL's best record, might seem like a no-brainer. McGriff could be part of a pennant race and play home games at a ballpark that's always packed instead of toiling for a struggling team that has the worst home attendance in the AL.
He's also having one of his most productive seasons, hitting a team-high .330 with 53 RBI and 15 home runs.
But McGriff is a Tampa native who wants to be close to his family. He and his wife, Veronica, have two young children, Erick and Ericka.
"I get to see my family all the time. I'm happy," McGriff said. "The Cubs have been great. The Cubbies have been awesome. Chicago's a great city -- great players, but it has nothing to do with Chicago or the Cubbies, nothing."
While McGriff weighs his options, MacPhail said he'll continue to explore other possible deals as the Cubs try and bolster their offense for the second half.
McGriff would be a big pickup for the Cubs, who are in first place midway through the season for only the third time since World War II. Not only is McGriff a left-handed hitter, but he was once one of the most respected power hitters in the game.
He's one of only two players to hit 200 homers in both the AL and NL. He'd also provide some protection for Sammy Sosa, who's already drawn a career-high 21 intentional walks.
"Whatever it takes to get another guy in there, a left-handed power hitter," said Matt Stairs, the Cubs first baseman and the player who'd be most affected by the trade.
"If they want me to play outfield, that's fine. If they get another quality bat in the lineup, that'd be perfect. I'll catch if I have to."
But going to a playoff contender might not be enough for McGriff. Tampa Bay is his fourth team in 16 years. And at 37, he wants to be close to his family.
"He has certain rights," MacPhail said. "There's no reason to vilify him for exercising the right that he's negotiated in good faith with his current club."