Hit the Road Jack: Jack Wilson Could Still Be On the Move

Casey McLain@caseymclain34Senior Analyst IAugust 6, 2009

PHOENIX - JULY 25:  Jack Wilson #2 of the Pittsburgh Pirates prepares to bat during the major league baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 25, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Mariners new shortstop Jack Wilson may not be in blue and teal for long, even though Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline passed.

Jon Heyman wrote a piece a few days ago about the players that may or may not make it through waivers before Aug. 31, the waiver trade deadline, but led with a very interesting notion; that this year’s July 31 deadline could have been the softest in baseball’s history.

Economic conditions have prevented teams from spending. The same conditions are responsible for some odd, clear salary-dump trades throughout the first two-thirds of the season. Those same conditions will likely lead to some very intriguing names being available in the coming weeks.

I was very critical of the trade for Wilson. I think that the team overpaid for Wilson, and put a disproportionate value on defense, all while shipping a solid defensive shortstop, though one with a worse bat, Ronny Cedeno, as part of the package.

While Jack Zduriencik has praised Wilson publicly, implicating Wilson’s future role with the team, in the same article I pointed out that he isn’t always upfront with his plans (scroll to the bottom).

The positive, and undoubtedly the reason that the Pirates were able to obtain so many players in exchange for Wilson and Snell, is that the team sent a little more than $3.3 million to the Mariners with the duo, meaning the Mariners only incur $800,000 in additional expenses.

When paired with the departure of $3.8 million in remaining salary in the Jarrod Washburn trade, from a financial standpoint, the deadline wasn’t too shabby.

But the distinction between expenses and debts is perhaps the most aspect of Wilson’s future, or lack thereof in Seattle.

A common misconception, if only for the ease of explanation, is that teams who receive salary supplementation as part of trade only owe a player a portion of his remaining salary.

In reality, the Mariners owe Wilson the rest of his salary, he won’t be receiving two paychecks. However, if all of the money acquired in the deal is thrown into the same pot, it is essentially allocated to pay Wilson’s contract.

When a waiver team claims a player placed on waivers, they claim him for his entire remaining contract. In Wilson’s case, they’d be claiming between $1.39 million and $2.23 million, depending on when he’s claimed.

That type of price tag on a mid-lease rental would be cause for pause in a normal year, and the perception league wide that this year’s deadline may produce trades of much more valuable make it even more likely that Wilson would go unclaimed on the waiver wire.

If Wilson is claimed on waivers, the Mariners may negotiate a trade with the team that claimed him, pull him back off of waivers, or let him leave with no compensation.

Though the latter option isn’t palatable, because the money received in the trade isn’t necessary allocated for Wilson’s contract, they could use it to further the stalled negotiations with Dustin Ackley.

If he clears waivers, the Mariners are free to discuss a trade with any team, provided the players the Mariners receive in return are not on the other team’s 40-man roster or have cleared waivers.

There is also very recent precedent for compensation that the Mariners may expect in exchange for the shortstop.

Last year the Toronto Blue Jays traded David Eckstein to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 31. In exchange, the Blue Jays received Chad Beck, a then 23-year-old Single-A righty who had bounced between the bullpen and the starting rotation.

Eckstein, for all intents and purposes, is a poor man’s version of Wilson, in terms of trade value. He’s a near-equal hitter, though with less power. He’s a good defender, but not as good as Wilson.

He was also a year older than Wilson is now, and presuming the Mariners send a portion of the money they got in the Wilson trade along with the shortstop, Wilson may be less expensive.

The Red Sox inquired about Wilson while he was still a Pirate. However, with a less prohibitive cost, the Mariners may have more suitors.

I predict that the Tigers, Yankees, Rays, Mets, Brewers, and Angels may also be interested, as well as any team who suffers an injury at the shortstop position.

Perhaps I’m grasping at straws. But Zduriencik has proven to be something of a magician. He presents a content demeanor, but has made some very definitive, swift roster moves, and the Wilson trade notwithstanding, they make both future, statistical, and baseball sense.

He doesn’t leak much to the media, but that doesn’t stop anyone from speculating.

However, a deadline haul that includes two C-level prospects or a B-level prospect along with Luke French, Ian Snell, Mauricio Robles, Robert Manuel and theoretically over $6 million in financial relief, in exchange for Cedeno, Jeff Clement, Jarrod Washburn, Wladimir Balentien and three low-ceiling minor leaguers is more appealing that one that includes Wilson.