Sanchez, Wilson open to staying with Bucs
Middle infielders clarify desire to renegotiate with Pirates
PITTSBURGH -- On Monday, Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson wanted to make it clear that despite not accepting the Pirates' initial contract extensions, both remain willing to continue negotiations with the club.
On Sunday, general manager Neal Huntington expressed little optimism that an agreement would be reached with either player. Huntington's reasoning, as he explained it, was that neither player came back with a counteroffer and therefore must not be interested in negotiating further.
"The response is such that they don't even feel we are in the same ballpark because they feel like years, dollars, the foundation is so far off their expectations that it's not worth countering," Huntington said.
Both middle infielders, however, adamantly stated that that was not the case. Separately, each used the term "miscommunication" between the two sides, stating that they were each unaware that the Pirates expected a counteroffer, or for that matter would even consider one.
"I did not know that it was negotiable," Sanchez said. "I was under the assumption that it was a take-it-or-leave-it deal and that there was going to be no wiggle room."
"We thought it was more of a take-it-or-leave-it type of deal because of the situation of trying to get it done quickly," Wilson said. "At no point have either of us been interested in shutting this down. We both are very interested in being Pirates. I don't think this is dead by any means."
Sanchez was initially offered a two-year extension worth $10 million, but one that would also void his $8 million option for 2010. He is easily on pace to have that option automatically triggered based on his number of plate appearances, and that is a factor weighing his decision.
If Sanchez were to accept the offer as it stands right now, he'd essentially be agreeing to a $5 million salary for each of the next two seasons. When comparing that to his opportunity to earn $8 million guaranteed next year and then test the free-agent market the year after, it's certainly reasonable to see how he would expect to earn more by turning down the Pirates' first offer.
Aware now that his rejection of the initial deal doesn't mean talks are dead, Sanchez is more than willing -- and actually hopeful -- to reopen them.
"We are definitely ready to still negotiate," the second baseman said. "My goal is still to stay in Pittsburgh and hopefully stay here for my career and play here. That hasn't changed. I'm still willing to negotiate this thing out."
Wilson's decision isn't as much about salary as it is about what his middle-infield partner and close friend Sanchez does. The Pirates offered Wilson a two-year deal worth $8 million. It's an offer that Wilson said he will absolutely consider as is if Sanchez agrees to a deal first.
"[The Pirates] know my terms as far as how I feel about Freddy and the direction of this team," Wilson said. "They know that I'm open to staying and that I want to stay. I have to wait for Freddy. For me to make a decision on the Pirates and the future has a lot to do with what happens to Freddy. I'm going to wait and see what happens with Freddy before I look into contract stuff."
Though Wilson didn't go so far as to completely rule out the possibility of working out an agreement with the club if Sanchez does not sign an extension, the prospect of Wilson doing so does not seem likely.
"The contract offer was forwarded on to my agent, it was forwarded on to me, but at that point, I didn't really look into it," Wilson said. "I've let them know I am really interested in staying a Pirate. I've really loved putting this jersey on every day. But the direction of the team is really important when you're a free agent. To not have Freddy, I think we'd be taking a step backward. At that point, it would be a pretty tough decision to make. I'd have to step back and think about that decision. To me, it's a pretty easy decision if Freddy is here."
So where does everyone stand now?
Wilson is obviously ready to play the waiting game, holding off on any sort of counteroffer until Sanchez and his agent make their next move. As for Sanchez, he said he is hopeful that the Pirates will come to him with a newly-structured offer after which they can reopen the contract talks.
Neither player seemed aware of a set date by which these talks had to be completed or whether the Pirates would be interested in continuing negotiations after the Trade Deadline date if one or either remains with the team beyond July 31.
Both players are likely to be seeking a third year in any offer, though it's not certain that each would reject an offer simply because that third year was not guaranteed.
While the direction of these negotiations remains unknown, Wilson did express a desire for whatever happens moving forward to be kept solely between the involved parties.
"I will not do any more negotiations through the media," Wilson said. "I think this is a behind-the-door negotiation. I just don't believe in making comments through the media to get points across like we've had to do. Figures and stuff, I think, should be done behind doors."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.