Do not expect the Pirates to shatter Major League Baseball's record bonus to sign elite Dominican prospect Miguel Angel Sano.
The team remains intensely interested in Sano, a 16-year-old shortstop/outfielder, and the same is known to be true in the reverse, as Sano, his family and agent Rob Plummer have forged a tight relationship with Latin American scouting director Rene Gayo. But there were strong indications from the team's front office yesterday that the $4.25 million bonus Oakland gave to Dominican pitcher Michael Inoa will not be the bar for an offer to Sano.
Rather, the Pirates plan to place a value on Sano as they do all players, by talent level -- which the team views as special -- and by the market. The Dominican market for 16-year-olds, as they see it, remains below the outlier bonus the Athletics gave Inoa, as the previous range for elite prospects had been mostly between $2 million and $3 million.
The Pirates would not need any financial infusion to produce a competitive offer for Sano, given that they spent $9.8 million on the amateur draft last year and surely will not rival that figure in the draft next week, given that no talent comparable to Pedro Alvarez will be available when they pick at No. 4 overall. Alvarez, No. 2 overall, took up $6.355 million of the total draft budget, and the recommended slot for No. 4 this year will be an estimated $2.5 million.
The first day that 16-year-old international prospects -- who, essentially, are free agents -- can sign is July 2.
The Pirates' plan for Steven Jackson, the right-handed reliever promoted yesterday from Class AAA Indianapolis, is more ambitious than that of a fill-in: Jackson will pitch the middle innings, get summoned when a ground ball or double play is needed and, most important, will stick if he performs well.
Manager John Russell and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan had asked general manager Neal Huntington for a ground-ball reliever, and Jackson's repertoire -- fastball, split-change and change -- lends itself to that.
"We like what he brings," Russell said.
Jackson, 27, was acquired from the New York Yankees in a waiver claim May 18. He spent April 19-28 with the Yankees but never pitched, then, after he was designated for assignment early last month, had 10 days away from baseball before joining Indianapolis.
"It was a struggle there for a bit, but I got straightened out," Jackson said. "This is a little surprising to me, coming up here so fast, but I'm really excited."
Jackson made his debut last night, summoned with a two-run deficit in the seventh, and pitched one scoreless inning with one walk.
"Joe told me they were going to have me pitch," Jackson recalled of a pregame meeting with Kerrigan. "Man, what a thrill to be part of that. Not just for me, but for how we won."
• Another test on reliever Craig Hansen's upper back confirmed the others, which diagnosed the failure of a nerve to control the trapezius muscle. He will fly to Bradenton, Fla., later in the week for rehabilitation.
• The New York Mets, already missing Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes and Ryan Church to injury, made All-Star outfielder Carlos Beltran a late scratch because of a stomach flu that began bothering him over the weekend.
• Sano will be the subject of a Sports Illustrated piece in its next issue.