BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -Like most major leaguers who are fast wearying of the daily drudgery of spring training, Jason Bay is watching the calendar these days. So are Jack Wilson and Xavier Nady.
It's not entirely because they are eager to begin the Pittsburgh Pirates' season.
The sooner the season starts, the sooner Bay, Wilson and Nady will begin to learn where they might be when the season ends.
The three are the Pirates' most valuable trade assets, except for the club's mostly young starting rotation, and new Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington listened to offers for them during the offseason. Wilson was nearly dealt to the Tigers late last season, and Bay and Nady probably would have been traded by now if Huntington had gotten the young players he is seeking for each.
Bay and Wilson are among the club's highest-paid players, after being identified as the cornerstones of the Pirates' previous rebuilding plan a few years ago. They understand that a team that has averaged 95 losses over the last three seasons is about to go in yet another direction.
``It's part of the game, and I've been traded before,'' Bay said Friday. ``You hear rumors and stuff but, right now, everything has been pretty quiet.''
Bay, a two-time All-Star after being traded by San Diego to Pittsburgh in 2003, hadn't had a down season in the majors until he hit .247 last year - a year after starting the All-Star game in his home ballpark. The previous two seasons, Bay averaged 29 homers and 105 RBIs and provided a persistent loser with its one productive, middle-of-the-order player.
With a contract that won't make most contenders flinch - the 29-year-old will make $5.75 million this season and $7.5 million next - Bay could be one of the more attractive hitters available at or near the trading deadline.
``I know there's a good chance (of a trade),'' he said.
Wilson, an excellent fielder who is enjoying a solid spring as he comes off a .296 season, and Nady, who hit a career-high 20 homers last season despite having several injury layoffs, also figure to be available for the right price.
Wilson can hit effectively at the top or bottom of an order, while Nady provides a power bat that could be a major addition to a contender.
Having so many ready-to-trade players might be seen as a distraction, but Bay said he doesn't believe his on-field play will be affected by what figures to be season-long trade talk.
At least until he's traded.
``Having gone through it a few times, albeit not at this level, I'd like to think it wouldn't affect me,'' Bay said. ``If it were the first time I'd been traded, or rumored in trades, it might be different.''
Still, Bay and Nady understand it's probably not a matter of if they will be traded, but when. The Pirates must prop up a talent-thin farm system to have any hope of contending again, and staying the course with an ever-changing cast of players who are around the age of 30 hasn't worked for years now.
During the offseason, both Bay and Nady said it's obvious the Pirates need to undergo a major face-lift, and Bay was visibly unhappy that more wasn't done during the offseason. The club's roster is nearly the same as it was last season, when the Pirates finished 68-94.
``We play well at times but, when it comes down to it, we really struggle,'' he said, ``and there needs to be some changes.''

Top MLB Public Bets

MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail Rockies vs. Giants Prediction Will the Giants complete their series sweep of the Rockies tonight when the rivals clash at 3:45PM ET?
Thumbnail Phillies vs. Mariners Prediction Is the betting total in today's Phillies and Mariners matchup set too high? First pitch is set for 3:40PM ET.
Thumbnail Braves vs. Padres Prediction Will the Braves pull off the upset tonight when they visit the Padres at 10:10PM ET?
Thumbnail Rockies vs. Giants Prediction Will the over cash again tonight when the Giants host their National League West rivals the Rockies at 10:15PM ET?
Thumbnail Phillies vs. Mariners Prediction Will John Paxton lead the Mariners to a victory tonight against the Phillies at 10:10PM ET?

MLB Team Pages