Pirates acquire infielder Izturis
Club also receives cash considerations for player to be named
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates made their first trade leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline on Thursday when they acquired Cubs infielder Cesar Izturis and cash considerations in exchange for a player to be named later.
The move will reunite Izturis with Pirates manager Jim Tracy, who managed the infielder in Los Angeles from 2002-2005 and will give the Pirates an extra infielder with starting third baseman Jose Bautista currently on the disabled list.
The deal may also indicate that Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson's days with the team could be numbered.
"We feel like Izturis is an upgrade," Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield said. "He's been an accomplished player in the past. It's basically a move to help our infield depth."
Izturis, who has played second, short and third in the Majors, appeared in 60 games (48 starts) for Chicago this season, sharing starting duties with Ryan Theriot. After beginning the season as the team's starting shortstop, Izturis' playing time significantly decreased during the last two months as Theriot took over the starting reins. Now, Izturis said, he is ready for a fresh start.
"I just want to play every day and now it's an opportunity to go to Pittsburgh," Izturis said. "I'm going to miss this team but it's a business."
Izturis went to Chicago on July 31 last season when the Dodgers dealt for the Cubs' Greg Maddux. The 27-year-old infielder was a Gold Glove winner in 2004, narrowly beating out Wilson for the honor, and he was a member of the National League All-Star team one season later. He leaves the Cubs this year with a modest .246 average, eight RBIs and 15 runs on the season.
"Cesar's a real good guy, and obviously, we thought going into the season that he would be the starter, but as we always talk about, the people that earn the most playing time get it," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "It's not an indictment of him -- he's a wonderful guy. He's still got a lot of ability, and I just felt it was a good situation for him to move into.
"He's going to go play for Jim Tracy, who he played so well for in L.A., and hopefully he'll get some more time," Hendry said. "I told him in the clubhouse, I want you to go out there and help beat some of those National League Central teams that we're trying to stay on top of and catch."
Dealing for another shortstop gives the Pirates the flexibility they need to trade Wilson, assuming another club makes an offer to the Pirates before the July 31 trade deadline. Wilson, who is hitting .254 in 86 games this season, is the team's highest played player and still in the first year of a three-year, $20.2 million contract.
Littlefield said that a possible Wilson deal did not play a role in the club's decision to go after Izturis.
"This is simply about an upgrade," Littlefield said.
Izturis has a $5.45 million club option for 2008 written into his contract. The Pirates will have to make a roster move on Friday in order to add Izturis onto the team's 40-man roster.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.