Pirates look to move Nady, one way or another
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The Pirates are prepared to trade outfielder Xavier Nady.
And, if they cannot do so within the next few days, according to one official with direct knowledge of their plans, they are considering non-tendering him before the Dec. 12 deadline to offer salary arbitration. That would allow him to become a free agent.
Such a move would be surprising on several levels, not the least of which is that Nady was productive in 2007, batting .278 with 20 home runs and 72 RBIs despite missing roughly 150 at-bats to various ailments. Moreover, he did so at an eminently affordable $2.15 million and could, if the team chose, have his rights controlled through arbitration for two more seasons.
On the other hand, Nady's salary next season surely will top $3 million through arbitration, and that might be more than the Pirates are willing to pay within a self-imposed tight budget, particularly given his yearlong trouble with a strained left hamstring -- such injuries tend to linger -- and their outfield depth. Steve Pearce, Nate McLouth and Ryan Doumit can play right field, too.
Moreover, the Pirates have almost no chance of keeping Nady once he would become eligible for free agency in 2009, as his super-agent, Scott Boras, invariably advises his clients to test the open market.
General manager Neal Huntington, asked Friday if any of his arbitration-eligible players -- particularly Nady -- would be non-tendered, replied, "At this point, we plan to tender contract offers to all players requiring a tender."
At any rate, the chance of trading Nady seems much more likely than a non-tender, as suitors certainly exist. But, with some in the business already aware of the Pirates' apparent intentions, any trade return probably would be diminished.
The Pirates have seemed determined to move one of two outfielders, Nady or Jason Bay, with an eye toward receiving prospects to replenish their barren minor-league system. But the potential return for Bay, by all accounts, has not been what some in management had envisioned.
The Pirates had sought to get two strong prospects, perhaps a pitcher and catcher, in the type of deal that successful, low-spending teams often make. But the Cleveland Indians are the only party known to have had firm talks with the Pirates, and their interest is not to that extreme. The Boston Herald reported yesterday that talks centered on backup catcher Kelly Shoppach, a 27-year-old who batted .261 with seven home runs last season. A report on FoxSports.com earlier this week described the Chicago White Sox as being interested in Bay, but a White Sox source said yesterday that there have been no significant internal talks about Bay.
"Right now, nobody wants Bay," another American League executive said. "That will change if he shows he's right again. But not now. He's got to get out there and be Jason Bay again."
Bay is coming off a career-worst season in which he batted .247 with 21 home runs and was hobbled by tendinitis in his knee all summer. He is signed for the next two seasons for a combined $13.25 million.
Nady is one of the Pirates' six arbitration-eligible players. Another of those, infielder Jose Castillo, is a virtual lock to be non-tendered, multiple sources say. Management already is taking steps to replace him as their utility infielder by negotiating with free agent Chris Gomez, a 36-year-old, 15-year veteran who batted .297 in 92 games split between the Indians and Baltimore Orioles last season.
First Published December 2, 2007 12:00 am