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Pirates, SS Wilson agree to three-year, $20M deal

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson
agreed to terms of a three-year, $20 million contract extension on
Tuesday.

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."