Pirates, SS Wilson agree to three-year, $20M deal
The 27-year-old Wilson was heading into the last year of a two-year, $8 million contract. He had one more year of arbitration eligibility and could have become a free agent after the 2007 season.
Wilson said he had his agent contact the Pirates in late December and ask to start talks toward an extension. The team agreed.
"Some guys look forward to their free agency years so they can go to a contender," Wilson said. "To me, that's what I'm doing. I believe in what this team is doing.
"I think we're going to win. And I'm flattered they want to keep me here to be a part of that for a long time."
Wilson has been Pittsburgh's starting shortstop for five seasons, and has batted .263 with 35 home runs in 720 games. His best season came in 2004 when he was an All-Star and had 201 hits.
Wilson's contract was the second major extension for the Pirates this offseason. Outfielder Jason Bay was signed to a four-year, $18.25 million deal in November.
Wilson's salary for the coming season will remain $4.6 million, but he will receive a $600,000 signing bonus. He will earn $5.25 million in 2007, $6.5 million in 2008 and $7.25 million in 2009.
If the team option for the fourth season is exercised, Wilson will earn $8.4 million. He will receive a $600,000 buyout if the team does not exercise its option. He also is eligible for up to $300,000 in performance bonuses.
Pittsburgh's opening day payroll is projected to be $47 million, among the lowest in the majors but a $12 million increase from last season.
"When you look at building on Jason Bay and Jack Wilson, those are two pretty good players to start with as far as character," Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy said. "That's a nice aspect of it. But the key is performance and strengthening ourselves up the middle."
With Wilson and second baseman Jose Castillo, who is signed for three more years, the Pirates have one of the best defensive middle infields in baseball. Wilson was runner-up for the Gold Glove last year.
"It's a great building block to have that up the middle," manager Jim Tracy said. "Those two can be special for a number of years."
Wilson watched several teammates leave Pittsburgh over the years because of the Pirates' limited spending. He sounded optimistic that that era has passed.
"I think it's a great sign that things have changed," Wilson said. "I know as soon as I heard about Jason's contract, that's what I thought."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press