Finding Homes for Pirate Scraps at the Deadline
Yesterday we determined the bait.
Jack Wilson, Shawn Chacon, Tony Armas, Salomon Torres, Dan Kolb and John Grabow should be available at the trade deadline.
While every club could use more pitching, there are only a few contenders in need of a shortstop. We’ll talk more about the arms later; this morning, let’s find Jack a new home.
At first glance, I see three winning teams that could use an upgrade in the middle infield, seriously limiting where the Bucs can dump Jack Wilson. His salary is obviously a concern—no one wants to invest $15 million in a utility guy, so I’m only accounting for teams where he’d be able to earn significant playing time.
In any case, the potential targets and their incumbent starters:
- Boston (Julio Lugo)
- Toronto (Royce Clayton/John McDonald)
- Minnesota (Jason Bartlett)
Before I begin, let me first say that Dave did a great job summarizing this scenario last week. In addition to the Blue Jays, he mentioned the Astros and Nationals as other possible destinations for Jack, looking forward to 2008 and beyond in his analysis. I’m only here to provide a different perspective.
Okay, on with it. Where’s he headed?
Jack won’t go to Boston, no matter how terrible Julio Lugo is. (Lugo saves Jack from earning the title of “least bang for your shortstop buck.”)
Theo Epstein’s not an idiot—he knows that Wilson isn’t much of an upgrade over his current personnel, nor is he priced to move. I wanted Jack at Fenway during the hot stove season—before the Sox acquired Lugo—but while his bat would be hidden in a potent offense, there just isn’t a reason for Epstein to spend good money after bad.
Along the same lines, it’d be tough to see Jack headed north of the border. While neither Royce Clayton nor John McDonald is terribly proficient on his own, in tandem they seem to be producing to a satisfactory level. The Blue Jays would need to climb in the standings for a move to make sense. And, as Dave noted, Jack does have a limited no-trade clause. With a baby on the way, I would assume that a team in a different country would be on his short list of undesirable destinations.
Thankfully, Minnesota’s situation is more interesting. Jason Bartlett is hitting .243/.329/.302 (and earning $405,000). He’s a perfect 9 for 9 in stolen base attempts, but he has committed 13 errors in 59 games. The Twins’ next best option, second base prospect Alexi Casilla, hit .233 in 43 at-bats with the big club before being returned to Triple-A.
Jack’s glove on the fast turf at the Metrodome would fit in well, and—I can’t believe I’m saying this—he’d be considered an offensive force when compared to Bartlett.
Thing is, Minnesota isn’t a surefire contender. Torii Hunter will reach free agency this off-season, so if the Twins don’t gain a little ground over the next month or so, they could very well turn into sellers themselves. Furthermore, they’re a small market team on a budget.
Unless the Pirates are to eat a significant chunk of his salary, Jack might remain in black and gold through the end of the season. It’s not that he doesn’t have a desirable skill set—he does. There just aren’t any teams with glaring holes. It might take an injury for Dave Littlefield to have the opportunity to redistribute Jack’s talents. Otherwise, he may have to wait until teams are evaluating their rosters in the off-season.
In any case, it seems as though the Pirates’ best bet for a deadline deal might involve the pitchers I listed earlier. I’ll take a look at possibilities in the coming days.