NEW YORK -- Three years after the Pittsburgh Pirates first sought Xavier Nady in a trade that also involved Oliver Perez, they finally got the deal done Monday during one of the busiest days of trading in team history.
Only this time, Perez was sent out of Pittsburgh in a trade the Pirates wouldn't have made until a month or so ago, sending the left-hander to the New York Mets with right-hander reliever Roberto Hernandez for Nady.
The Pirates were expected to be one of the major wheelers and dealers on the final day before trades could be made without waivers, and they were. They also dealt first baseman Sean Casey to the first-place Detroit Tigers for pitching prospect Brian Rogers, right-hander Kip Wells to the Texas Rangers for minor-league reliever Jesse Chavez and outfielder-first baseman Craig Wilson to the Yankees for right-hander Shawn Chacon.
"I really don't want to be in this situation," general manager Dave Littlefield said. "We want to win here, and I'd rather be acquiring players because we're battling for a playoff spot."
While the Pirates get a starter in Chacon and a quality hitter in Nady -- the outfielder has 14 homers and 40 RBI -- the trades probably benefit the Pirates most by shedding salary that perhaps can be saved for next season.
Casey was the team's highest-paid player at $8.25 million, but was contributing little power with only 18 extra-base hits. And Wells, making $4.15 million, is only 1-5 with a 6.69 ERA and is 9-23 over the last two seasons. Casey, Wells and Wilson were unsigned past this season.
"There were obviously some players whose contracts were up who we were able to trade and get some good pieces back," Littlefield said. "It also gives us some pieces to move in other trades if we so desire."
However, the Pirates failed to land the prospect they have sought for weeks as the Colorado Rockies traded first baseman Ryan Shealy to Kansas City. The Rockies were believed to have sought left-handed reliever John Grabow and rookie outfielder Nate McLouth from Pittsburgh for Shealy, who was kept out of the Rockies' lineup by the productive Todd Helton.
The 27-year-old Nady, who can play first base, gives the last-place Pirates a hitter they have coveted for years. They first wanted Nady when they sent outfielder Brian Giles to the Padres in 2003, but settled for outfielder Jason Bay and Perez.
Perez appeared to be developing into the Pirates' staff ace after going 12-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 239 strikeouts in 2004, averaging nearly 11 strikeouts per nine innings. But he reported to spring training in poor shape in 2005 and has struggled since, with a 7-5 record and 5.85 ERA last year and a 2-10 record and 6.63 ERA this season. He was 1-3 after being sent to Triple-A Indianapolis.
The Pirates have had trouble getting Perez to stay with a consistent delivery, a problem that has led to major variations in his velocity. He threw regularly in the 97-mph range in 2004, but now sometimes fails to hit 90.
"We feel Oliver has a bright future, but we have a lot of pitching depth and we were able to use some of it to acquire a good young player in Nady," Littlefield said.
The Pirates kept Casey only about six months after dealing with the Reds to get the former Pittsburgh-area high school star. He was out for six weeks with two fractures in his lower back after being hurt April 14 and has not shown much power since returning, and the Pirates felt it would cost too much to re-sign him.
The Pirates also finally gave up on Wells, who has excellent velocity and an outstanding breaking ball but has never been a consistent winner, going 56-74 with the Pirates and White Sox. He welcomed a trade to Texas, where he was a star pitcher at Baylor.
Wilson never could find a place in the Pirates' lineup despite leading them with 29 homers in 2004. His numbers are almost identical to Nady's: .267, 13 homers, 41 RBI.
Chacon, signed through 2007, was 5-3 with a 7.00 ERA in 11 starts with the Yankees. He was 7-3 with a 2.85 ERA in 14 games last season after the Yankees acquired him from Colorado.
Because of the trades, the Pirates recalled outfielder Chris Duffy and reliever Josh Sharpless from Triple-A Indianapolis to fill out their 25-man roster. Duffy began the season as the Pirates' starting center fielder, but initially refused a minor league demotion in mid-May before finally accepting it a month later.