Pirates, Tigers talk about pitcher Durbin
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The Pirates are engaged in trade talks with Detroit in an attempt to acquire right-handed starter Chad Durbin.
Durbin, 30, was 8-7 with a 4.32 ERA last season, one in which he won a spot in the Tigers' rotation in the spring because of an injury to Kenny Rogers, then moved in and out while winding up with 19 starts.
It is not known what the Pirates might give up in a deal for Durbin, but he does fit their profile of having a low cost and possible upside: He made $385,000 last season and will be arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2008, and he finally broke through for a full season of Major League Baseball after seven years of mostly hitting his head on the Class AAA ceiling.
The Pirates also were approached by Detroit regarding Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge and outfielder Marcus Thames, but Inge quickly was ruled out by management as too costly -- he is owed $19.1 million over the next three years -- and the Thames discussion apparently went nowhere, too.
Adding Inge, 30, would have made little sense.
Although he has been productive in the past, notably his output of 27 home runs in 2006, he is coming off a down season in which he batted .236 with 14 home runs and 71 RBIs. The Pirates' current third baseman, Jose Bautista, is three years younger and batted .254 with 15 home runs and 63 RBIs. Bautista also comes far cheaper, with his rights owned through arbitration the next three years.
Inge lost his job last week when Detroit acquired Miguel Cabrera and asked for a trade.
The deadline to offer contracts to arbitration-eligible players is midnight today, and the Pirates will tender all five of theirs: first baseman Adam LaRoche ($3.2 million), second baseman Freddy Sanchez ($2.75 million), outfielder Xavier Nady ($2.15 million), reliever John Grabow ($832,500) and Bautista ($397,500). With the exception of Bautista, each is in his second year of eligibility; Bautista is in his first.
Players almost invariably get raises through arbitration, and first-timers such as Bautista can see exponential increases.
Other teams will be non-tendering players, and that could open up fresh possibilities for the Pirates. For example, the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday designated Matt Wise, a dependable right-handed reliever, for assignment rather than tender him at roughly $1 million. Given the Pirates' glaring needs in the bullpen, they could be interested. Wise, 32, had a 3.93 ERA the past four seasons.
First Published December 12, 2007 12:00 am