AP Source: Dodgers, Pirates discussing Wilson deal
PITTSBURGH -- The Dodgers have been involved in extensive talks this week about acquiring longtime Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson, with one hang-up being his $7.25 million salary for next season, a person familiar with the talks said Thursday.
Los Angeles apparently wants the Pirates to pick up a substantial share of Wilson's salary, a problem because Pittsburgh has little organizational depth at shortstop and has no prospect ready to take his place, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations are ongoing.
The Dodgers had season-long problems at shortstop because of Rafael Furcal's back problems, and would seem to be a good fit for Wilson -- a southern California native who is strong defensively and is a .269 career hitter.
Wilson batted .272 with one homer and 22 RBIs last season, when he was limited to 87 games due to a strained calf and a broken finger. He never went on the disabled list in eight seasons prior to 2008, playing at least 135 games in each of the six previous seasons.
Wilson hit a career-high .308 while getting 201 hits in 2004.
Detroit also talked with the Pirates about Wilson, but the Tigers might not have enough money to make a deal unless the Pirates absorb most of his contract, said a person familiar with the Tigers' negotiations who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation. Wilson's contract also contains a 2010 club option for $8.4 million with a $600,000 buyout.
Wilson has a limited no-trade provision that bars deals to six teams, including the Tigers, unless he agrees.
After talking with Pittsburgh, the Tigers are now looking at Adam Everett, said the person familiar with the Tigers' talks. Everett has played only 114 games the last two seasons with Houston and Minnesota. He hit .213 in 48 games with the Twins last season, missing extensive time because of a shoulder injury.
Detroit is seeking a shortstop after allowing Edgar Renteria to become a free agent. He agreed to a deal Thursday with San Francisco.
The Pirates began overhauling their roster during a major league record-tying 16th consecutive losing season, dealing their three most-sought players -- outfielders Jason Bay (Red Sox) and Xavier Nady (Yankees) and left-handed reliever Damaso Marte (Yankees- in late July.
The deals left the Pirates with only three players making more than $3 million next year: Wilson, their most-tenured player; second baseman Freddy Sanchez ($6.1 million) and first baseman Adam LaRoche, who is arbitration-eligible and will get a raise above the $5 million he made last season.
Dealing Wilson might allow the Pirates to cut a 2009 payroll currently projected at $55 million to below $50 million, one of the lowest in the majors.
The franchise may be concerned that the recession added to a losing team could further trim home attendance, which has fallen each of the last three seasons.
The Pirates' attendance has slipped from 2,435,867 in 2001, when PNC Park opened, to 1,609,076 last season -- lower than it was during each of the club's final two year in Three Rivers Stadium, in 1999 and 2000.
Selling tickets this offseason could prove especially difficult because the Pirates lost 41 of their final 60 games beginning the week they dealt Nady, Marte and Bay.
To encourage sales, the Pirates announced Thursday they won't raise single-game ticket prices. Earlier, they cut the price of season tickets.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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