Pirates, Chacon still discussing his return
The Pirates and free-agent reliever Shawn Chacon continue to discuss his possible return, a scenario that is looking increasingly logical from each side.
From the team's perspective, the greatest roster need is a right-hander who can set up closer Matt Capps, and next on the list is starting depth. Chacon supplied both for the Pirates last season, posting a 3.94 ERA in 64 appearances, including four starts.
From Chacon's perspective, there is little doubt that he wants to come back. He has made that known not only to the team's new management -- previous management rejected his requests last summer to discuss a contract extension -- but also to some teammates in recent days.
"Shawn is open to going back there," his agent, Danny Horwits, said. "And the Pirates are still one of the teams we're talking to. I expect we'll keep talking. We certainly haven't closed any doors."
Horwits said he and Pirates general manager Neal Huntington have been in touch in the past two weeks and that he expects that to continue. He added that he is talking to "several" other teams, but, with spring training only three weeks away and many rosters set, that group could dwindle soon.
Horwits has marketed Chacon as a starter, hoping to take advantage of that lucrative market, but he also has made known that Chacon is flexible.
"Some teams see him as a starter, some as a swingman, some as a reliever," Horwits said. "We've considered different roles with different teams, and we're fine with that."
That, too, could bolster the case for the Pirates, who already have declared their five-man rotation.
Huntington, without divulging specifics, has acknowledged that he remains open to addressing a bullpen that will enter spring training with four uncertainties out of seven spots. There has been little known activity between the team and any free agents in recent weeks, but that could be because Huntington has been waiting for prices to drop.
Chacon, 30, made $3.825 million last season.
Also yesterday, the Pirates agreed to terms on a minor-league contract with starter Jaret Wright, extending with that an invitation to spring training. He will have an $800,000 salary if he makes the 25-man roster, and he can make an additional $1.75 million in bonuses based on relief appearances and games finished, or $1 million in bonuses based on starts.
Wright, 32, pitched 10 seasons for the Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees before soreness in his right shoulder limited him to three games for the Baltimore Orioles last season, none after April.
The shoulder was examined but no additional surgery performed - he had two surgeries on it earlier this decade -- and he is expected to be ready to pitch by spring training.
Wright is 68-60 with a 5.09 ERA in 171 career starts, and his highlight was starting Game 7 of the 1997 World Series for Cleveland. He left after 6 1/3 innings with a 2-1 lead, but the Indians lost.
Wright went 15-8 for Atlanta in 2004, after which he signed a three-year, $21 million contract with New York. He went 5-5 in 2005, 11-7 the following year before the Yankees dealt him to Baltimore and agreed to pay $4 million of his $7 million salary.
NOTES -- The Pirates had a $51,360,907 payroll in 2007, according to figures obtained by the Associated Press yesterday from Major League Baseball. That payroll number reflects the amount actually spent on major-league salaries, bonuses, buyouts, deferments, unexercised options and other cash transactions. It was fourth-lowest among MLB's 30 teams, and it was less than a quarter of the Yankees' $218.3 million. It did, however, represent an 18 percent increase on the $43.4 million the Pirates spent in 2006. ... The Pirates also reached minor-league agreements with shortstop Melvin Dorta, catcher Steven Suarez, starter Josh Shortlslef and outfielder Vic Buttler, the latter two returning to the system. Dorta, 26, appeared in 15 games with the Washington Nationals in 2006. His career in the minors: .255 average, 20 home runs and only 92 games above the Class AA level. Suarez, 25, never has played above rookie ball. ... Wright's invitation to spring training raises the team total to 64. ... Owner Bob Nutting and team president Frank Coonelly were part of a ceremony yesterday in Bradenton, Fla., to unveil a logo celebrating the team's 40th spring training there. Among the remarkable list of alumni in attendance: Bill Mazeroski, Kent Tekulve, John Candelaria, Dave Giusti, Steve Blass, Omar Moreno, Chuck Tanner, Dave Cash, Jackie Hernandez, Grant Jackson, Ken Macha, Bob Robertson, Don Robinson, Bill Virdon, Jim Rooker, Manny Sanguillen and Milt May.
First Published January 24, 2008 12:00 am