On Monday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the signing of outfielder Preston Wilson to a one-year contract. Wilson joined the Cardinals last August after being released by the Houston Astros and hit .243 down the stretch with eight home runs and 17 RBI in 32 games. He combined for 17 home runs and 72 RBI in 134 games with Houston and St. Louis.
Wilson, 32, has played all or part of the last nine years in the majors with six different clubs: New York Mets, Florida, Colorado, Washington, Houston and St. Louis. He enjoyed his first taste of postseason action in 2006 and appeared in 13 postseason games. Wilson appeared in all five World Series games and had the game-winning RBI in Game Five of the National League Championship Series with a double that scored David Eckstein.
Wilson is expected to get as many as 400 at-bats in 2007, spelling Chris Duncan in left field, especially against left-handed pitchers and late in games. Though he has had knee problems in recent years, Wilson is also capable of playing in centerfield behind Jim Edmonds. Right-fielder Juan Encarnacion is coming off wrist surgery and may or may not be ready for the start of spring training.
So Taguchi is expected to be the Cardinals’ fifth outfielder, leaving John Rodriguez, Skip Schumaker and non-roster invitee Eli Marrero to scramble for major league jobs in 2007. Marrero's chances can improve if the Cardinals decide to carry a third catcher.
Catcher Michel Hernandez, out of options and with almost zero odds of making the major league club, has been placed on irrevocable waivers to make room on the 40-man roster for Wilson. If Hernandez clears, he will be assigned to Memphis (Triple-A).
In 2006, Wilson earned $4.5 million, with all except about $100,000 paid by the Astros. The AP reports the new deal is for a $1 million base salary plus incentives that could total as much as $500,000 more if Wilson achieves 500 plate appearances, making this an excellent addition by Cards' General Manager Walt Jocketty.
Scout.com subscribers can read more about Wilson, Encarnacion and the other key National League Central outfield signing from one year ago, the Cubs’ Jacque Jones, in this article: ”The Three Amigos: One Year Later”.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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