Report: Wilson would be made available, too
DENVER -- Hoping to restructure their player payroll, the Colorado Rockies will listen to trade offers for All-Star first baseman Todd Helton and center fielder Preston Wilson, one of their best hitters last season.
Manager Clint Hurdle said Tuesday the Rockies are not shopping the two players but that they have to be prepared to make them available.
"We aren't in a position to say that anyone is untouchable," Hurdle told The Denver Post.
A Rockies spokesman and Helton's agent declined to comment on the report Wednesday. Hurdle was on vacation and his cell phone was not accepting messages.
In Helton's first six full seasons, he has batted .339 and averaged 36 homers and 122 RBI. He hit a team-high .358 this past season, missing his second National League batting crown by percentage points.
"Tough times call for tough decisions," Helton told the Post. "I would definitely be willing to listen [to trade proposals]."
Wilson led the National League with 141 RBI and was solid defensively.
"I would really like to remain in Denver," he said. "I feel like the foundation is there for a great franchise. However, I do understand that because of financial reasons, the organization may have to make a move."
The Rockies payroll is expected to be just above $60 million in 2004. But the team has committed $53.1 million to six players: right fielder Larry Walker, catcher Charles Johnson, pitcher Denny Neagle, Atlanta pitcher Mike Hampton, Wilson and Helton.
Helton is owed $130.9 million during the next eight seasons, an average of $16.4 million. Wilson has $21.5 million and two years left on a contract that offers a limited no-trade clause in 2005, his agent said.
Walker, Johnson and Neagle all have complete no-trade clauses.
Walker, 36, hit .284 with 16 homers and 79 RBI last season, and recently had surgery on his left shoulder. Johnson, 32, has caught more than 1,000 games, while Neagle, 35, is likely to miss next season after ligament transplant surgery on his throwing elbow.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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