I think Bay and Nady are good ball players, but we can go 44-49 with or without them. I do like the idea of picking off some top prospects, TOP prospects, if we can do it. Hopefully our GM can sell, sell, sell!
The Diamondbacks and Cardinals are among the most ardent pursuers of Pirates star outfielder Jason Bay, SI.com has learned.
The Mets and Rays, who also seek an outfielder, are among other teams thought to have checked in with the Pirates. Pittsburgh also has emerging star Xavier Nady, yet another fine outfielder, as a potential trade target.
"There's been a great amount of interest in a couple of our right-handed hitters,'' Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said on Thursday, apparently referring to Bay and Nady.
Without getting into specifics, Huntington asserted, "If we get the right match, we'll make a move.''
Word is, the price is high, especially on the two-time All-Star Bay, who is back to his old self this year, batting .291 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs after hitting just .247 with 21 homers and 84 RBIs in 2007.
The value of both Bay and Nady, who is hitting .321 with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs, is enhanced by the fact both are contracted beyond this year and thus more than just "rental'' players. Bay, who is making $5.75 million this season, is signed through next year and is due to make a very reasonable $7.5 million in 2009. Nady, who makes $3.35 million this year, also isn't eligible for free agency until after '09.
One N.L. executive said he heard that Pittsburgh sought multiple upper-echelon prospects, exactly the sort teams don't like to trade. However, execs say it's understandable considering the recent performance of the pair.
The Pirates are believed to be seeking Arizona's top prospect Emilio Bonifacio, a second baseman, in a package. The Diamondbacks are reluctant to deal Bonifacio since Orlando Hudson may leave as a free agent after the year. From the Cardinals, who'd surely like to match the trades of Milwaukee (CC Sabathia) and the Cubs (Rich Harden), the likely target is top center field prospect Colby Rasmus, who's thought to be untouchable.
One executive with a National League team said he thought "it would go down to the wire'' whether Bay would be dealt.
"We're looking for what we deem appropriate value. We're not going to limit ourselves to guys who are close (to the big leagues),'' Huntington said. "Our goal is to maximize our return and find a good match.''