Mariners, Rangers become potential trade partners
By John Perrotto – Marc DelPiano, special assistant to Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, created a minor stir Thursday night when he showed up at Safeco Field in Seattle for the opener of a four-game series between the Mariners and Texas Rangers.
Both teams are potential trade partners as the Mariners are again interested in trading for Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez and shortstop Jack Wilson.
The Rangers, meanwhile, would like to trade for one of the Pirates’ left-handed starting pitchers, Zach Duke or Paul Maholm.
The Mariners, though, seem like a more logical match for the Pirates.
With third baseman Adrian Beltre out for at least six weeks after bone spurs surgically removed from his shoulder last week, adding Sanchez would give the Mariners flexibility. Sanchez could either start at third base or play second base, which would enable Jose Lopez to move to third.
Beltre is also eligible for free agency at the end of this season while there is a club option in Sanchez’s contract for 2010 that will vest if he has 600 plate appearances in 2009. He currently has a 329, leaving him 271 short.
Wilson would sure up Seattle’s defense as the Mariners have grown disenchanted with Yuniesky Betancourt, who is currently on an injury rehabilitation assignment at Class AAA Tacoma while recovering from a strained right hamstring.
Betancourt has been playing some second base at Tacoma and was also pulled from the lineup there Thursday night, fueling speculation he could be traded.
The Pirates have made adding a young right-handed hitting power hitter their top priority and like Class AA West Tenn outfielder Greg Halman, who was ranked as the Mariners’ top prospect by Baseball America coming into this season.
While the 21-year-old has hit 20 home runs and driven in 50 runs in 71 games, his batting average is just .216 and he has struck out 116 times in 298 plate appearances while drawing 17 walks.
However, in order to get Halman, it is believed the Pirates would have to take on the approximately $10 million left on Betancourt’s four-year, $13.75-million contact that runs through 2011 and includes a club option for 2012. Betancourt, 27, is hitting .250 with two homers and 22 RBIs in 63 games this season.