What's Next For Jack Wilson?

In an interesting turn of events, Jack Wilson has been benched the past 4 games in favor of the once-maligned Jose Castillo. Ironically, it was Wilson that called out Castillo in spring training, questioning his focus:

“I want whoever’s going to make this a winning team,” Wilson said. “Right now, Freddy is my second baseman, in my mind. He’s the guy I can trust to go 100 percent and get the job done. Castillo’s got to show me something. You’re going to see it in spring training. If he’s slimmed down and ready to work, he’s going to have a good year. But, if it’s the other way around, we’re going to have some problems.”

In just a few short months, Wilson and Castillo’s roles have been reversed. Defensive lapses against the Yankees, along with his usual impotent hitting, have cost Wilson his job, at least for the time being.
Considering the team’s displeasure with Wilson, coupled with his increased salary in upcoming seasons ($6.5 million in ’08, $7.25 million in ’09, $8.4 million club option in ’10), there is a decent possibility that Wilson will find himself in another team’s uniform before the July 31st trading deadline.
Wilson’s contract is controlled for at least 2 more seasons, so a team trading for the Bucs shortstop would be making a fairly long-term commitment. The question becomes, is Wilson worth his salary of about $7 million in each of the next 2 seasons? And who would want him?
At the plate, Wilson has been nothing short of a cipher in all but one year of his career (2004). Wilson is a career .264/.306/.367 (AVG/OBP/SLG) hitter, and is currently “hitting” .251/.305/.352 in 2007. The average national league shortstop is hitting .271/.329/.408, so Jack is clearly a below average hitter relative to his position.
Much of Wilson’s value is tied up in his glove. By nearly any defensive metric one can find, Wilson is rated among the best defensive shortstops in baseball. Baseball Prospectus’ fielding system has Wilson at a career RATE (measures the number of runs a fielder is above or below average per 100 games) of 108 (100 is average; anything above 100 is above average, anything below is below average). ESPN’s Zone Rating system(% of balls fielded by a player in his typical defensive “zone”) rated Wilson 9th in 2006, 1st in 2005, and 7th in 2004. It is worth noting that the same system rates Wilson 22nd among shortstops in 2007; whether this is a significant trend or just a few months of slightly below-average production remains to be seen. However, there is a definite consensus between the data and our eyes: Wilson is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball.
Another important factor for prospective trade partners to consider is who might be available on the free agent market after the season. Here are the shortstops of note that may become free agents after the 2007 season:
David Eckstein, STL
Cesar Izturis, CHC ($5.45 M club option)
Omar Vizquel, SF
Juan Uribe, CWS ($5 M club option)
Eckstein, a contact hitter with a plus defensive rep, would likely command a salary in the $6-7M range, perhaps more given his “scrappy winner” tag.
Vizquel remains an above-average defensive shortstop, though his offensive performance in ’07 (.229/.284/.289) would have to give teams some pause. Vizquel would likely command between $5-6 M.
Uribe is a poor offensive player. He has a career .296 OBP, though he’ll occasionally pull a home run over the fence with his all-or-nothing approach. Uribe is considered an above-average shortstop. Given his relative youth (Uribe will 29 by opening day 2008) and occasional home run power, Uribe will likely command slightly more than Wilson, if the White fail to pick up his option.
Izturis is similar to Wilson, punchless hitter with a reputation for smooth glovework. The Cubs hold a $5.45M option on Izturis, and seem unlikely to exercise it, given the performances of Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot, coupled with the presence of a nearly-ready, solid second base prospect in Eric Patterson.
So, teams searching for a long-term shortstop are limited in their options. Eckstein and Uribe, given the inflation within the free agent market, will likely command more than $7M per season. Vizquel in his 40’s, is definitely not a long-term option. Izturis is the only guy on that list that may command a lower salary than Wilson, but he is at the mercy of the Cubs.
Given the paucity of options and baseball’s inflated salary structure, Wilson’s contract is reasonable, and there will likely be some market for him.
So, who might Wilson be landing with? Here are some of the possible trade partners:
Disclaimer: According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Wilson has a limited no-trade clause between 2007-2009, allowing Wilson to block trades to 6 teams.
Washington Nationals: The Nationals don’t have a legitimate player at the position, Cristian Guzman’s hot streak be damned. Given that the Nationals are in rebuilding mode, it wouldn’t appear very likely that they would add a $7M a year player. Perhaps the Nats want some degree of name recognition on their roster while moving into their new stadium.
Houston Astros: Yes, they already have their own no-hit, all-field shortstop in Adam Everett, but Everett may be done for the season after an ugly collision with Left Fielder/MAC Truck Carlos Lee. Everett suffered a fractured right fibula. Considering Craig Biggio has as much range as a lampost at second base, perhaps the Astros won’t feel comfortable with Mark Loretta’s below-average range at short.
Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays are currently playing the likes of Royce Clayton and John McDonald at the position. Given the groundball tendencies of starters Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, and Dustin McGowan, Toronto could use a rangy shortstop to convert all of those grounders into outs.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Matt Bandi

Matt has covered the Pirates at Wait ‘Til Next Year, Pittsburgh Lumber Co. and now Pirates Prospects. He served as Pirates team expert for Heater Magazine in 2009 and 2010 and has contributed to Graphical Player 2009, 2010 and 2011. Matt was also the editor of the 2011 and 2012 Pirates Prospects Annuals.

Downfall of the Fam-A-Lee – Part 12

Next Story »

Series Preview: White Sox/Pirates

  • http://mvn.com/mlb-pirates Cory Humes

    I’m guessing it’s based on geography … I mean, when you’re a Pirate, are you honestly worried you’ll be traded to a losing team?
    He’s a West Coast boy, so like Kendall and Giles, he’d probably welcome a move to California. I don’t know if he’d like Toronto much, or Florida.
    Pirates.com says that his wife’s expecting (Father’s Day article) with a September due date … so that might make him especially unwilling to waive a no-trade clause.
    That is, of course, if the Pirates are even looking to make a move. We all hope they are—but I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • http://mvn.com/mlb-pirates Cory Humes

    I’m thinking the Blue Jays are the most logical match from the teams you mentioned, Dave.
    The Nats are in a rebuilding stage even more so than the Pirates. Locking up a light-hitting shortstop doesn’t seem like a top priority to me.
    Even though Everett’s going to be out for a couple of months, I don’t see Wilson going to Houston, either. As you said, he’s a long-term commitment—at least two more years. The Astros love Everett’s glove … and I don’t see Jack as being better at second than Chris Burke.
    The Blue Jays, though. The Blue Jays. Someone get J.P. Ricciardi on the phone.

  • http://none Brad Crouse

    Can anyone guess what teams are blocked for a trade as per Wilson’s contract? Do we know? Obviously in 99.9% of no trade clauses around MLB the Pirates are the #1 team listed to block a trade to. I wonder if the Pirates are listed anyway to prevent Wilson from being traded back!!!

  • http://mvn.com/mlb-pirates/ Randy Linville

    Everett’s broken leg was ugly. I hate that kind of stuff. Maybe the Bucs could nab Brad Lidge even up for Wilson?! I’m dreaming.

  • http://www.bucstradewinds.net/ Dave

    Jack said, in the Fathers Day article Cory mentioned, that he is planning on retiring in 3 or 4 years. Not much of a long term solution.
    Maybe Toronto would take Jack and a bullpen arm with closing experience for Rios? Damn I crack me up.

Latest Analysis

  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    19 hours ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    2 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    4 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    5 days ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    6 days ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    7 days ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    1 week ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    1 week ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Third Base Mathisen Luplow Joe

    Who’s on Third? In the Pirates’ Farm System, It Could Be Anyone

    2 weeks ago

    If you have ever played third base in your life — professional, college, high school, slow pitch softball — then the Pittsburgh Pirates might be contacting you ...

    Read More
  • Jason Creasy

    Another Pitcher to Watch From the Pirates’ 2011 Draft

    2 weeks ago

    The 2011 draft is shaping up to be a great class for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They picked first overall that year, so naturally you’d expect good things ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles