MLB: Mariners, Pirates trade shortstops
By GREGG BELL
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE — While they wait on a possible trade of top starter Jarrod Washburn, the busy Seattle Mariners acquired shortstop Jack Wilson and pitcher Ian Snell from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.
The Pirates got shortstop Ronny Cedeno, Triple-A catcher-first baseman Jeff Clement and three minor league pitchers.
The 31-year-old Wilson, the most senior Pirates player and an All-Star in 2004, becomes Seattle’s third everyday shortstop this season. He was due to arrive from his former team’s road trip in San Francisco during the Mariners’ series finale against Toronto on Wednesday.
“I would call it a relatively major trade. We got a 27-year-old pitcher with three years’ experience in the major leagues and arguably one of the better defensive shortstops in the league for guys who are yet to be proven,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said.
Seattle also traded failed left fielder Wladimir Balentien to Cincinnati for right-hander Robert Manuel, who has 40 games of experience above Double A.
A more major deal, of the coveted Washburn, could happen before Friday’s non-waiver trading deadline. The Yankees, Brewers and Tigers are among the teams rumored to be interested.
“I’m all ears at this point,” Zduriencik said, as he traded head nods and smiles with Washburn from the dugout as the pitcher walked past. “I can’t say anything’s imminent. I don’t think I have a framework yet. ... There are discussions.”
Wilson is the latest to flee a Pittsburgh franchise that is shedding veterans to restock its farm system. Wilson and second baseman Freddy Sanchez, a fellow Southern Californian who also could be traded, were recently offered contract extensions. Neither player negotiated because each felt the offer was too low.
“Not only have I lost a teammate, I’ve lost a brother,” Sanchez said from San Francisco. “Jack is the Pirates. He’s the face of the Pirates.”
Those Bucs are careening toward what would be a major league-record 17th consecutive losing season. They’ve now traded six starting players since last July: outfielders Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, Xavier Nady and Nyjer Morgan, first baseman Adam LaRoche and Wilson.
“People now might wonder what we’re doing, but if you keep looking at all the names we’re getting and all the premier talent we’re getting, it’s going to equate to a very solid, very good ballclub in Pittsburgh,” manager John Russell said.
Seattle had acquired Cedeno in the offseason from the Chicago Cubs. He struggled after the Mariners gave him their shortstop job this month by trading Yuniesky Betancourt to Kansas City.
Cedeno is hitless in his last 26 at-bats and is hitting .167 in 59 games. The 26-year-old’s contract ends after the season, though Pittsburgh could retain him for a couple of years through arbitration.
“I’m really surprised, because I feel comfortable here,” Cedeno said. “Great teammates, great coaches — everything. ... I’m really sad.”
In Clement, the Pirates are getting the third overall draft pick in 2005 who has shown impressive power but has been unable to play catcher consistently. He has primarily been a DH at Triple-A, though general manager Neal Huntington said Clement will mainly be a first baseman.
Clement, who turns 26 next month, batted .237 with seven homers in 75 games for Seattle in 2007-08. He was batting .288 with 14 home runs and 68 RBIs in 92 games for Tacoma this season.
“Our scouts have consistently projected Clement to be an everyday major league contributor with the power to hit 20-plus home runs,” Huntington said.
The Pirates also get minor league right-handers Nathan Adcock, Brett Lorin and Aaron Pribanic.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the Pirates are paying Seattle just over $3.3 million in Wednesday’s deal. The newspaper said the trade leaves Seattle responsible for all 2010 payments, including Snell’s $4.25 million salary, and the option buyouts for Wilson and Snell.
The Mariners inherit a club option on Wilson worth $8.4 million in 2010, with a $600,000 buyout. Zduriencik said his team will “entertain” picking up that option, or signing Wilson to a long-term extension.
“I’ve known his agent, Page Odle, since he was a player in college,” Seattle’s GM said. “We have a guy that’s a good player. And he’ll be here for a while.”
The Mariners think they can restart Snell’s stalled career. The 27-year-old had a 0.96 ERA in six starts with Triple-A Indianapolis, after starting the season 2-8 with a 5.36 ERA in 15 starts for Pittsburgh.
Manager Don Wakamatsu said the team was discussing whether to have Snell join its rotation or get acclimated at Triple-A Tacoma.
Snell was sent to Triple-A at his own request on June 25. He struck out 13 in a row in his first start there, but Pirates have been reluctant to recall him.
The Yankees were among the teams known to have scouted Snell in the last week.