Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Jones Trade to Pittsburgh?

Is Jacque Jones heading to the Pirates? Maybe, but probably not.

The Pirates are desperately looking for a left-handed bat for their line-up and they have eagerly placed reliever Mike Gonzalez on the trading block in order to make it happen. During the majority of the off-season, the Bucs target has been Atlanta’s 1B Adam LaRoche. Atlanta is interested, but Braves GM John Schuerholz wants the Bucs to throw in another starter, a concession Pittsburgh has been unwilling to make.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s ownership group is putting a lot of pressure on GM Dave Littlefield to get a deal done before Spring Training. So Littlefield has expanded his search to include D-Back’s 3B Chad Tracy. If a deal could get done, the Pirates would move Tracy to 1B. However, Littlefield is running into the same problem with Arizona that he had with Atlanta; the D-Backs want more than just Mike Gonzalez.

The only potential FA left-handed power hitter who is available and of any interest, is former Red Sox OF Trot Nixon. But from Pittsburgh’s perspective, Nixon is too old. At 32, the Pirates would like someone younger than Nixon.

Other trade possibilities include Geoff Jenkins of the Brewers and the Cubs Jacque Jones. However, there are problems with both of these scenarios. For Jenkins, he is the same age as Nixon. However, the Brewers would likely make the deal if Pittsburgh showed an interest. The Brewers would be happy to be rid of Jenkins’ contract and one of their excess outfielders.

With Jones, my guess is that the Cubs would want more than Gonzalez (or at least they should), but Jones age is also a concern. He is only one year younger than Nixon and Jenkins at 31-years of age. However, Jones seems much younger. He still has speed, agility, and a career that hasn’t seen much DL time. Despite his age, Jones could be the type of player the Bucs are looking for.

Even so, a deal between the Cubs and Pirates is unlikely. The Pirates have other options and the Cubs would probably want more than Pittsburgh is willing to give up. But as Spring Training approaches, who knows what might happen?


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