Wilson's salary at heart of trade talks

Updated: December 5, 2008, 4:50 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PITTSBURGH -- The Dodgers have been involved in extensive talks this week about acquiring Jack Wilson, with one hang-up being the Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop's $7.25 million salary for next season.

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.

Wilson, though, appears amenable on his end to making the numbers work. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, citing a team source, said Wilson has informed the Pirates he would consider renegotiating the final two years of his contract to enable a trade to the Dodgers. Wilson is owed $7.25 million in 2009 and has an $8.4 million club option for the following year, with a $600,000 buyout.

The Dodgers apparently would be willing to guarantee both years for a total in the range of $12 million. It's not clear if Wilson's offer to renegotiate applies to teams other than the Dodgers.

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, a person familiar with the Tigers' negotiations told The Associated Press. 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.

Los Angeles 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.

After talking with Pittsburgh, the Tigers are now looking at Adam Everett, the person familiar with the Tigers' talks said. 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.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.