PHILADELPHIA — Despite reports the Washington Nationals agreed to a deal that would send pitcher Zach Day and outfielder J.J. Davis to the Colorado Rockies for outfielder Preston Wilson, financial ramifications and Wilson’s no-trade clause have prevented the swap.
The Sporting News reported on its Web site yesterday that the Nationals and Rockies had a done deal, but club and league sources insisted that was not the case. The obstacles that have kept the trade from being finalized for weeks remain.
The key sticking point continues to be Wilson’s $12.5 million contract, of which about $6 million still is owed. The Rockies are looking for a trade partner to pay at least $3 million of Wilson’s salary, and the Nationals are unlikely to take on that much.
Even should the teams agree on financial terms, Wilson has the right to nix a deal because Washington is one of six clubs included in his limited no-trade clause. Sources close to the outfielder said he would waive the no-trade clause only if he does not lose any money.
The Rockies also have been talking to the Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers about a deal for Wilson, and those clubs appear to have a leg up on Washington.
Nationals general manager Jim Bowden has had his eye on Wilson, who turns 31 on July 19, for some time and earlier this week dispatched special assistant Bob Boone to Colorado to scout him. Bowden believes Wilson could inject some much-needed power into a Washington lineup that ranks last in the National League in home runs with 64.
Wilson is hardly a sure thing. Though he has 14 homers and 45 RBI in 68 games this season, he’s batting just .258 overall and .224 away from Coors Field. His power numbers almost surely would suffer at spacious RFK Stadium, which has yielded the fewest home runs in the majors.
If acquired, Wilson would become the Nationals’ regular center fielder. Brad Wilkerson would move to left field, and the Ryan Church/Marlon Byrd tandem would be bumped to the bench. Byrd also could become trade bait as Bowden looks for a pitcher before the July 31 trade deadline.
The Rockies have insisted all along that Day be included in any trade for Wilson, and the Nationals have been more than willing to comply. Day has pitched well in two rehab starts with Class AA Harrisburg and has recovered fully from a broken right forearm, but he doesn’t figure in Washington’s plans for the rest of the season.
The Nationals also aren’t reluctant to part with Davis, who made the major league roster out of spring training but was optioned to Class AAA New Orleans after batting .231 in 14 games. Davis has batted .282 with 12 homers and 31 RBI for the Zephyrs.
Wilkerson and Nationals manager Frank Robinson expressed displeasure with the International Olympic Committee’s decision to drop baseball before the 2012 Summer Games.
Wilkerson was the starting center fielder and No. 2 hitter for manager Tommy Lasorda on the 2000 U.S. team that won a surprise gold medal in Sydney.
Robinson managed Team USA during qualifying for the 2004 Olympics, a club that ultimately was eliminated without making it to Athens.
Robinson said the IOC’s decision was indicative of an organization that has roots primarily in parts of the world where baseball is not popular.
“Most of the people who make up that committee probably don’t even participate in baseball,” he said.
Robinson said he supports international baseball competitions, including the new World Cup event planned for March, but he believes only amateurs should play. Several Nationals players figure to have a chance to participate in the World Cup, but Robinson would prefer they don’t leave spring training for two weeks to represent their home countries.
“I can’t stop them,” Robinson said. “But I can tell guys very strongly that if they’re leaning [toward playing], it’s against my wishes.”
Byrd is making his first trip to Philadelphia since the Phillies traded him to Washington in May for outfielder Endy Chavez. Byrd was hitting .252 with 16 RBI since joining the Nationals; Chavez was batting .208 with three RBI since joining the Phillies. … Bowden is not with the club this weekend because he is attending his grandmother’s funeral in Maine. Mildred Smith Bowden died Monday at age 97.