Now we know why the Braves dumped Tom Glavine — to clear payroll.
In the second surprising move of the day involving Atlanta, the Braves acquired centerfielder Nate McLouth from the Pirates in exchange for Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez, and Jeff Locke.
Morton and Locke were among the Braves’ better pitching prospects, and Hernandez a top outfield prospect. Hernandez compares in skills to former Met Carlos Gomez.
Though McLouth has been mired in a season-long slump, he was showing signs of breaking out recently, and he no doubt will benefit from being surrounded in the lineup by the Braves’ legit MLB hitters. With the Pirates, opposing pitchers had the option to pitch around McLouth and instead deal with the LaRoche brothers — who are nice hitters but hardly middle-of-the-order talents right now.
Have to say I’m stunned by this move, from the Pirates’ perspective. You would think a 27-year-old centerfielder with McLouth’s skillset, and about to enter his prime, is the type of player you use as a building block. Pittsburgh’s pitching staff would seem to be a year or two away from maturing, so why cut bait on McLouth now? Basically what the Bucs are saying is, “we don’t plan to compete this year, next year, nor the year after”. Wow, and I thought it was tough to be a Mets fan!
What makes this deal more mind-boggling is that the Pirates bought out McLouth’s arbitration years only a few months ago, signing him to a 3-year, $15.75M extension in February — which is pretty cheap for an All-Star centerfielder. Apparently the Pirates a) believe last year was a fluke for McLouth and trading him while he still as value; b) are broke; and/or c) are focused on always being a AAA team in the midst of “rebuilding”, and not really interested in fielding an MLB-caliber ballclub.
The Braves, on the other hand, get a solid centerfielder entering his prime and under control for the next four years to replace Jordan Schaefer, who has shown a great glove but has been overmatched at the plate. They dealt from surplus, and likely won’t miss any of the three youngsters they’ve sent to Pittsburgh.