The Pirates today acquired shortstop Cesar Izturis from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later and cash, a move that might portend the trading of Jack Wilson.
General manager Dave Littlefield flatly rejected the notion that acquiring one former All-Star shortstop necessarily means another soon will be shipped out.
"This has nothing to do with Jack Wilson," Littlefield said.
Rather, he pointed to the additional depth that Izturis can give the Pirates, particularly with third baseman Jose Bautista out until August because of a gash on his hand. Izturis also has played third base and second base.
"This is a guy who, with his abilities, should be an upgrade for our team this year," Littlefield said of Izturis. "Our goal is to win more games. You have to be cognizant of things that happen, whether they're injuries or a need for more depth. Certainly, we're in that situation right now."
Littlefield said the decision about how to use Izturis will be left up to manager Jim Tracy, who had Izturis as his shortstop while with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Izturis' best season came under Tracy, when he batted .288 and beat out Wilson for the Gold Glove in 2004. Izturis was selected for the All-Star Game the following year.
The Pirates are off today. Izturis will join them for their game tomorrow against the Houston Astros at PNC Park, where he most likely will start at third base and send Jose Castillo back to the bench.
Izturis, 27, was Chicago's opening-day shortstop but quickly became a spare part in his seventh season of Major League Baseball, losing the starting job to Ryan Theriot by May. Izturis had only 13 at-bats in the Cubs' past 18 games.
He was batting .246 with 11 doubles and eight RBIs in 65 games, which was not far below his career pace: He is a .258 hitter with a .295 on-base percentage, each figure about 10 points lower than those of Wilson.
"I just want to play every day, and now it's an opportunity to go to Pittsburgh," Izturis told reporters in Chicago this morning. "I'm going to miss this team, but it's a business."
Izturis is in the final year of a three-year, $9.9 million contract, one that includes a club option for 2008 worth $5.85 million with a $300,000 buyout. Neither team disclosed how much cash the Cubs are sending the Pirates' way.
Wilson is making $5.25 million and is due $6.5 million next year and $7.25 million in 2009. There is a club option for 2010 worth $8.4 million with a $500,000 buyout, meaning he is guaranteed $14.25 million after this season.
The Pirates had full 40-man and 25-man rosters before the trade, but cleared space on each tonight by once again designating utilityman Don Kelly for assignment.
More details in tomorrow's Post-Gazette.