Pirates acquire Morris, make no deal for Wilson

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(Published 4:50 p.m.; updated 6:07 p.m.)

The Pirates today acquired starter Matt Morris from the San Francisco Giants for reserve outfielder Rajai Davis and a player to be named later.

Morris, a right-hander who will turn 33 on Aug. 9, was 7-7 with a 4.35 ERA in 21 starts, including three complete games, for San Francisco this season. That includes a poor stretch in the past five starts, during which he has allowed 30 runs and 48 hits.

He was an All-Star in 2001 and 2002 while with the St. Louis Cardinals before signing with the Giants as a free agent in late 2005. His career marks: 118-84 with a 3.83 ERA.

The most jarring aspect of the transaction is that the Pirates will assume all of Morris' contract, which includes the prorated remainder of a $9.5 million salary this season and $9.5 million next season. There also is a club option for $9 million in 2009, with a $1 million buyout.

"We've talked about acquiring a veteran starter the past couple seasons and haven't been able to acquire the guy we were looking for," general manager Dave Littlefield said. "I think Matt Morris is the right player who kind of fits in with what we're trying to do. This is someone we think will be a good fit for us."

The Pirates had daylong discussions with Detroit about trading shortstop Jack Wilson to the Tigers, but those did not reach fruition by Major League Baseball's 4 p.m. non-waiver deadline today. Trades can be made until Aug. 31, but all players must clear waivers.

Littlefield declined to answer a specific question about whether he was trying to trade Wilson. Even though parties on both sides extensively confirmed the talks, Littlefield dismissed published reports on the matter as "speculation" and "a fun thing for baseball fans to read about this time of year."

Wilson most assuredly did not. He was receiving calls all day yesterday and today, including one from Detroit first baseman Sean Casey, informing him of the Tigers' interest.

"I didn't really sleep last night, thinking that something was going to happen," Wilson said. "But there was nothing, so I've got to go out there and play."

Wilson made it no secret that he would have welcomed a deal to Detroit, which is a World Series contender once again.

"It would excite anybody," Wilson said. "Obviously, I signed on here to be a Pirate, and that's something I hold dear. But when your name is being discussed to go to a contender, you can't help but be a little excited."

The Pirates also were known to be shopping relievers Shawn Chacon, Salomon Torres and Damaso Marte but, despite a market where that commodity was drawing significant value in some trades, all stayed put.

"The nice thing is, we know that there are teams out there that are interested in our players," Littlefield said.

Morris had some harsh words for the Giants last week, accusing them of losing their "focus," and he reiterated similar criticisms in a conference call today, saying of the environment with last-place San Francisco, "It's been hard. You almost learn to accept losing. I hate to say that, but it's true." He also called it "laid back."

Asked how he felt about coming to the Pirates, another last-place team, Morris replied, "It's exciting, a new opportunity. It will be nice to get some better defense, with the young guys there going all out."

Morris pitched Sunday for San Francisco and is likely to make his Pirates debut this weekend, manager Jim Tracy said.

Also today, Tracy announced that third baseman Jose Bautista, who has been on the disabled list for three weeks because of a cut on his hand, will rejoin the team for its game tomorrow night.


More details in tomorrow's Post-Gazette

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