Deal or no deal?


The Pirates have made a bid to keep Freddy Sanchez around through at least 2010. The team has offered a contract for two years with an option for a third.

However, neither side will divulge the dollar amounts involved, so it’s hard to say how legit this offer is or what chance it has to get done.

Sanchez’s agent Paul Cobbe said last week that all of his conversations with the Pirates centered on one-year deals. However, members of Pirates management indicated that a multiyear contract was never off the table.

“It’s always been in the back of our minds that Freddy’s a guy we’d like to try to keep here beyond just the standard six years,” General Manager Neal Huntington told me today at PirateFest. “At times, we felt like we had a realistic chance of getting something done. At times, we didn’t. It’s really been the ebb and flow of the process.”

At the moment, whether this deal ebbs or flows is in the hands of Sanchez and his agent.

The team wants some type of deal — either a one-year or multiyear deal — in place before the arbitration hearing Feb. 11.

Other snippets from PirateFest today include:

• Any team that hasn’t won since the days of the first Bush administration has to find ways to be fan-friendly. But closer Matt Capps continues to go above and beyond the call of duty.

After a session of “Deal or No Deal” in which bobbleheads and luxury-seat tickets were prizes, most of the participants wandered off. Capps sat down on the edge of the stage and spent the next half hour chatting, signing autographs and posing for pictures. He only stopped because he needed the stage for a scheduled Q&A session.

• Most optimistic answer from the Q&A session: When a fan asked how many games the Pirates expected to win this season, Capps did not hesitate before answering, “One hundred and sixty-two.”

• Best answer to a sticky question: When asked whether he expected fans to stay away this season because of the steroids scandal, Zach Duke was a fast thinker. “The Pirates are clean, so it won’t affect us,” Duke said. That drew a solid round of applause and defused what could have been an awkward moment.

• Best props to the past: A fan asked shortstop Jack Wilson who he’d like to see playing second base this season. “If I had my druthers,” Wilson said, “Bill Mazeroski.”

• Smoothest talker: Nyjer Morgan, hands down. Most players offered brief answers to queries, but Morgan, the Pirates’ most outgoing player, is never afraid to open up. When someone begged Morgan to “tell us a little about you,” he listed his hometown (San Jose, Calif.), his first sport he played (hockey), his educational background (a junior college in Walla Walla, Wash.) and his pet name for his new Cadillac. “I call her Charlene,” Morgan said. “She rides real clean.”