The Pirates' management worked deep into last night on trade proposals involving shortstop Jack Wilson and second baseman Freddy Sanchez, according to multiple sources. And a deal in which Sanchez would be sent to the San Francisco Giants seemed the greatest possibility.
Neal Huntington, the Pirates' general manager, and Brian Sabean, his San Francisco counterpart, are believed to have had extensive discussions Monday night, possibly to the extent of having the framework of a trade in place. Sanchez has a left knee injury, which might have slowed the process, but it is thought minor.
The Minnesota Twins also are interested in Sanchez, as well as reliever John Grabow. The Boston Red Sox are interested in Wilson. And the Pirates, as always, are seeking top young talent in return, though that surely will be hard to pry away, especially in the case of Sanchez because of his $8.1 million vesting option for next season.
There were no new talks toward contract extensions for Wilson or Sanchez yesterday, although each side maintained its stance that such talks would be welcome. As Pirates president Frank Coonelly said earlier in the week, no resumption of talks is expected until after the passing of Major League Baseball's trading deadline 4 p.m. Friday.
Wilson and his agent, Page Odle, attempted to contact the team yesterday to discuss a counter-offer to the initial two-year, $8 million rejected July 17, but the team did not return the call.
All team officials declined comment yesterday, except for one who -- speaking not for attribution -- rejected a national report that the Pirates "intend" to move Wilson and Sanchez by Friday.
"We do not need to move either player, we have not decided that we must move either or both players, and we will not move either player unless we receive appropriate value in return," the official said.
There was no word on possible trade returns from any of the various sides.
Red flags were raised early last night at AT&T Park when Wilson and Sanchez were scratched from the Pirates' lineup: Sanchez was no surprise because of his knee, and he should be out again this afternoon. But Wilson was healthy, and manager John Russell explained that he wanted to save him for today while catcher Ryan Doumit rests.
Sanchez had his knee checked by the Giants' doctors late Monday, two sources confirmed, but one of those sources said that had nothing to do with a trade. The home team's doctors in every stadium care for the visiting players, and Sanchez's injury is seen as minor enough that there would be no need to send him back to Pittsburgh.
On another trade front, the Pirates continued to have contact with the New York Yankees about estranged pitcher Ian Snell.
Given their recent falling out, the Pirates would be delighted to move Snell and as much of his remaining contract -- about $1 million this year, $4.25 million the next, plus an option buyout of $500,000 -- as possible. Snell might benefit just as much from the change of scenery.
Snell sought and received a demotion to Class AAA Indianapolis last month after going 2-8 with a 5.26 ERA for the Pirates, but he has been dominant in six International League starts, with a 0.96 ERA, 47 strikeouts and 13 walks in 37 1/3 innings. The Yankees have had a scout at his past two starts.
By all accounts, Snell has been no less impressive off the field, in good spirits, enjoying his teammates and the environment and heeding the instructions and advice of Indianapolis manager Frank Kremblas and pitching coach Ray Searage.