Breaking Up the Band

Neil Huntington’s attempt to look like a nice guy ended up with him looking like a bit of a jerk, as details on the contract extensions for Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez came to light. I’m not here to suggest that giving long-term deals to two middle infielders over 30 years of age is a wise move, but the offer to Sanchez at least could be seen as borderline insulting.

Wilson’s offer was for 2-years, $8 million with an option for a third year. Sanchez’s offer covered two years, $10 million while also voiding his $8 million, 2010 vesting option if he attains to 600 plate appearances this year, which looks like a real possibility. Both offers were quickly shot down by the players, and there are some reports these offers were of the “take it or leave it” variety, not starting points to negotiations. So what is each player really worth?

Jack Wilson has been downright groovy with the glove this season, with an UZR of 11 and an UZR/150 of 19. The season prior he was worth 17 runs per 150 games. Hitting-wise, he’s been Jack Wilson with his usual .300 wOBA over 272 plate appearances. This season so far he has been worth 1.8 wins above replacement, making him well worth his hay. Considering past history, he is probably more like a 2-win player going forward, worth $9 million on the non-chilled free agent market. His $8.4 mil option is hardly a bargain, but is about right. With blue light specials being made for players of Adam Everett‘s ilk being made over the winter, I can see the Buc’s desire to see if they can’t get a discount. It will be interesting to see what sort of a deal Wilson will get over the off-season.

Freddy Sanchez has already been worth nearly $12 million to the team just coming off of the break, double what he is getting paid now. Why on earth would he take a $3 million pay cut when all he has to do is stay in the lineup? Granted, Sanchez was terrible last year and it isn’t like he is without his foibles — he doesn’t run all that well, doesn’t walk and doesn’t hit for much power. He’s been slightly above average in the field, with a career UZR/150 of 5. So maybe he is somewhat of an empty .300 hitter, but over his past three healthy seasons, his WAR totals have been 3.2, 4.8, 3.8 and now 2.6 this season. The man is hardly a $5 mil a year player.

It seems rather doubtful a team would be willing to pick up Wilson’s option, and he is not going to be a Type A or B free agent this winter. Wilson is still due about $3 mil for the rest of the season, so if the Pirates can get a “C” grade prospect or maybe two in a trade, Huntington should suck it up and say “yes”. Sanchez on the other hand could help a team not only win this season but the following, so the Pirates should be getting something shiny in return. Probably not a top 25 caliber prospect, but a nifty prospect to add to Huntington’s collection.

Pirate fans, brace yourselves for a new and much less-inspiring double play combo very soon.

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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.

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I’m assuming part of the offer was just to be able to tell the fans they made an offer (especially to Sanchez), but whoops on that.