Pirates Notebook: Little flexibility to contract offers

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The Pirates' extension offers to shortstop Jack Wilson and second baseman Freddy Sanchez came with minimal margin for negotiation, according to multiple sources.

Wilson's offer covers two years at a total of $8 million, it was learned yesterday, plus a club option for 2012. That offer at least reached the point where it was delivered formally and considered. Wilson would prefer a guaranteed third year, but it was not outright rejected, and Wilson remains steadfast in his insistence that Sanchez gets signed, too.

The scenario is somewhat different for Sanchez, whose offer covers two years at a total of $10 million while also voiding his current 2010 vesting option worth $8 million if he achieves 600 plate appearances this season, which he likely will. That offer was rejected emphatically, to the degree that no further talks were planned.

Both players are open to negotiating further, but the team has made known its desire to set a clear path in one direction or the other quickly -- possibly the early part of this week -- as well as its reluctance to move much from the initial offers.

Sano passes age test?

Miguel Angel Sano, the elite Dominican infield/outfield prospect the Pirates are pursuing, really is 16 years old, as per Major League Baseball's age and identity investigation, according to a report yesterday in Sports Illustrated.

No independent confirmation was available.

A formal announcement of the investigation result is expected Tuesday or Wednesday, but MLB is known to have done DNA testing, as well as interviews with relatives, friends and other acquaintances of Sano.

The Pirates conducted their own investigation a month ago and concluded that Sano was 16 or 17, which is part of the reason they have been one of the few teams to seriously approach Sano to this point. A positive MLB result could entice other interested parties.

The Pirates have attempted to engage Sano's agent, Rob Plummer, in negotiations, but he has preferred to wait for the investigation to end. Thus, talks never proceeded beyond the Pirates' initial offer July 2, the opening day of the international signing period. That offer was less than $3 million.

The record signing for a Latin American 16-year-old is $4.25 million.

Shortstop prospect injured

Nothing is rarer in the Pirates' system than shortstop prospects, and one of those, Chase D'Arnaud of Class A Lynchburg, could be lost for the season: He must wear a cast for four weeks because of a sprained thumb ligament, director of player development Kyle Stark said yesterday, then will need to time to rehabilitate. The Hillcats' season ends Sept. 7.

D'Arnaud, 22, was the Pirates' fourth-round draft pick last summer. He batted .291 through 62 games for low Class A West Virginia, then .279 through 19 games after being promoted to Lynchburg.

Buried treasure

• Coach Rich Donnelly, on the Garrett Jones-powered victory Friday night: "Everyone's going to talk and write about Garrett, but what won us that game were the plays Adam LaRoche made in the last two innings. He saved us twice. If he didn't, everyone would have been writing about the throws that cost us the game."

• Meanwhile, LaRoche's struggles at the plate look endless: He went 0 for 3 last night to extend his hitless slump to 21 at-bats and, over a longer stretch, 2 for 36.

• Jones' feat Friday marked the second time in baseball history a player homered in the first inning, then a walkoff shot in the 14th inning or later. The only other was Boston's Vern Stephens on May 30, 1951, against the visiting New York Yankees.

• Expect the rotation of Delwyn Young and Brandon Moss in and out of the outfield to continue for so long as Jones keeps sizzling.

• The sellout crowd last night -- 37,023 -- was the season's third.

Catch more on the Pirates at the PG's PBC Blog . Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com .


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