Pirates confirm interest in Rick Ankiel

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Last week Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Pirates were interested in Rick Ankiel, and yesterday team president Frank Coonelly confirmed their interest in a chat with fans on MLB.com:

Rick certainly had an off-year at the plate for the Cardinals in 2009, but we believe that the Pirates could provide Rick with an opportunity to re-establish himself. We have let Rick’s representative know of our interest.

In his report last week Kovacevic noted that the Pirates were pursuing both Ankiel and Hank Blalock for what’s essentially one potential opening in the lineup. Garrett Jones will start somewhere, but his position isn’t set in stone yet. He could play first base if Ankiel is signed for right field or right field if Blalock is signed for first base.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch speculates that Ankiel is looking for a one-year deal that would give him a chance to put together a comeback season and then hit the open market again, which seemingly fits the Pirates’ plans as well with prospect Jose Tabata nearing the majors. Another option could be Xavier Nady, who played for the Pirates from 2006-2008 and like Ankiel is trying to re-establish his value following a forgettable year.

The Marlins made an empty threat. Giancarlo Stanton made an empty promise.

Associated Press
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I covered the main press conference about Giancarlo Stanton earlier, but afterward he and his agents fanned out to various TV shows, radio shows and reporter scrums from which some new, fun things have spun out. Part of what they’ve talked about is silly and meaningless, part of it just meaningless.

Here’s the silly and meaningless, from a Marlins official, apparently, trying to bully Stanton into accepting either the Giants or the Cardinals trades despite the fact that he told them beforehand that he was not willing to go to either of those teams:

This is silly because it comes off like a threat. Like the worst possible thing that can happen to a guy is to stay with the very team that is making the threat. It’s like telling your wife that if she does not leave you, she’s stuck with you forever.

It’s meaningless too, in that Stanton has an opt-out clause after 2020. If the Marlins could not make a trade Stanton would approve, he’d simply collect close to $90 million and then leave at age 30. Oooh, don’t throw me into that briar patch, Mr. Jeter!

Not that Stanton’s people are offering statements of serious gravitas. His agent was asked about Stanton’s opt-out rights, which he retains even though he’s now with the Yankees:

That may very well be true! He just got here and everything is going great so far. It’s totally empty, of course, because anything can happen between now and the fall of 2020. If the big time free agents of the next two years sign for the sort of money that makes Stanton look underpaid, he’ll certainly opt-out, even if he wants to stay with the Yankees. Ask Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia how that works. The opt-out clause is pure, unadulterated leverage for a player and unless he totally craters over the next three seasons he’ll most certainly use it, regardless of present desires.

Which, hey, that’s how things work when a big trade or free agent signing happens. Everyone who has lost looks bad and everyone who won sounds happy. Then, later, the baseball happens.