The holdup apparently involves the relatively paltry sum of
a half a million dollars. The Rockies want to the Nats to pay $2.5 million of
Wilson’s remaining salary, the Nationals have offered to pay $2 million.
As this drags on, one has to wonder why. In the world of
big-time pro sports, a half a million is petty cash, it’s a utility infielder,
it’s less than one home date at RFK can bring in, chump change. It’s not an
amount that normally would be haggled over for several days.
Regardless of the merits of the trade—that’s something that’s
subject to debate, to be sure—why is it that if Jim Bowden and Tony Tavares
want to make the deal, that the owners of the team won’t let them?
Oh, wait a minute. The owners. They are the other 29 major
league teams. You know, the teams that the Nats will be fighting against for
postseason berths. Would they be dragging their feet on this, hoping that
Wilson goes to the Cubs, who are safely buried a mile behind the Cardinals in
the NL Central, rather than to the first-place Nationals?
The longer this drags on, the more apparent it will become
that the answer to that question is yes.
Another question surrounding this possible deal is why the
team wants to add another player, one who is not under contract for next year,
to an already-crowded outfield picture. One possibility is that the team could
be concerned that Nick Johnson’s heel injury will take much longer to get
better than most think. Manager Frank Robinson hinted at that earlier this
"Nick won't be back for the start of the second
half," Robinson said. "I told you guys about that type of injury.
Nobody can determine how well it is and how bad it is. It's in there in the
heel, and that's a tough area to really have a feel for how good it is or how
bad it is."
If the Nationals are thinking that it’s still more on the
bad side, they know that they can’t stay in contention for long with Wil Cordero and Carlos Baerga at first base. Putting Wilson in center and moving
Brad Wilkerson to first might be their
long-term answer to the problem.