Major Leagues: Pirates, Mariners trade shortstops

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Associated Press
SEATTLE ó 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 in return.
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’s so embedded in Pittsburgh, his wife flew home on the Pirates’ charter from San Francisco on Wednesday as he flew north to his new team.
“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. “I can’t say anything’s imminent. I don’t think I have a framework yet. … There are discussions.”
Wilson arrived in the Mariners’ dugout from Pittsburgh’s road trip in San Francisco just as Ken Griffey Jr. was hitting the decisive double in the seventh inning of Seattle’s 3-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, then joined in the hugs with Griffey and his new teammates.
“Pretty good first impression,” Wilson said. “I was like, ‘All right, I’m a Mariner.”
Wilson and second baseman Freddy Sanchez, a fellow Southern Californian who was traded to the Giants hours later, are the latest to flee a Pittsburgh franchise that is shedding veterans to restock its farm system. Both were recently offered contract extensions. Neither player negotiated because each felt the offer was too low.
“I think seeing him go made this move a lot less emotional for me to come over here because he was gone,” Sanchez said of Wilson.
The Bucs are careening toward what would be a major league-record 17th consecutive losing season. They’ve now traded seven starting players since last July: outfielders Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, Xavier Nady and Nyjer Morgan, first baseman Adam LaRoche, plus Wilson and Sanchez.
“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 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 the 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.
He is likely to begin his Seattle tenure with 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.
AP Sports Writer Alan Robinson in Pittsburgh and freelance writer Michael Wagaman in San Francisco contributed to this report.