Pirates talk to SS Wilson, 2B Sanchez
With Major League Baseball's July 31 trade deadline looming, the middle infielders were approached recently by the Pirates about multiyear contract extensions, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"I'm very excited to possibly continue my career in Pittsburgh, to finish what I've started, and Freddy is going to be a vital piece of any decision I make," Wilson said Thursday night, according to the newspaper. "Without Freddy, I think, it would be tough to win without a player like that."
Last month, Wilson, 31, said he was "beyond, beyond tired" of trades the Pirates have made the past few seasons, including a June 30 deal that sent starting outfielder Nyjer Morgan and reliever Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals, and utility player Eric Hinske to the New York Yankees.
Wilson, batting .270 with four home runs, 18 doubles and 31 RBIs, later apologized, saying he didn't want to be the guy "who is butting heads with the organization or trying to cause any type of negativity."
Pittsburgh's 100 double plays are tied with the Texas Rangers for most in the majors, and general manager Neal Huntington acknowledged the Pirates covet the value of the Wilson-to-Sanchez quotient.
"Jack, obviously, is playing great defense. Freddy is an All-Star on both sides of the ball," Huntington said, according to the Post-Gazette. "It would be tough to replace both, no question. But, as an organization, we can't be held hostage to fear of replacing. We like our ability to be creative. We feel like we could go out and find adequate replacements."
Sanchez, 31, whose 2009 All-Star selection was his third, is batting .316 with six home runs, 27 doubles and 34 RBIs. Sanchez will make $6.25 million this season with a 2010 option worth $8 million dependent on 600 plate appearances this year. He already has 342 plate appearances in 77 games.
Because Sanchez likely would play every day for any team that acquires him, he would be all but certain of reaching the mark if he stays healthy. He has not made fewer than 608 plate appearances since 2005.
Huntington didn't say Friday if a deal or deals must be struck by a certain date to prevent the team from accelerating trade talks, but said there must be a quick resolution one way or the other. Manager John Russell clearly prefers to keep both infielders.
"Trying to retain both of these guys shows Neil thinks the direction we're heading is very good," Russell said.
Wilson, whose nine seasons in Pittsburgh are the most of any Pirates player, and Sanchez seem willing to listen to any Pirates offer but neither seemed overly optimistic Friday of being signed.
The two were American Legion teammates as teenagers in southern California and have spent the last five seasons together in Pittsburgh, but each denied he wouldn't sign unless the other also reached a deal.
"We want to stay," said Sanchez, the 2006 NL batting champion and a three-time NL All-Star.
Wilson was certain he would be dealt at the trading deadline last year, possibly to the Tigers, only to have the Pirates keep him and trade outfielder Jason Bay as part of a three-team deal. Wilson is making $7.4 million this year, a salary that has helped limit trade interest in him.
"I've been through this the last couple of years," Wilson said. "Until they call me in that room and say I'm not a Pirate, I'm here."
Wilson has an $8.4 million contract option for next season, but the Pirates almost certainly won't pick it up. They would owe him a $500,000 buyout if they don't. The club owes Sanchez $600,000 if he doesn't reach 600 plate appearances and they buy out his contract.
Because of Sanchez's contract clause and Wilson's salary and pending free agency, it is possible any trade might bring the Pirates only mediocre prospects for either or both infielder.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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