As reported by Federal Baseball.
The Washington Nationals announced that they have traded OF Lastings Milledge and RHRP Joel Hanrahan to thePittsburgh Pirates for OF Nyjer Morgan and LHRP Sean Burnett.
This is a deal that sacrifices what was once considered key pieces of the Nationals' future in order to improve the product on the field today.
Morgan, who turns 29 on Thursday, broke into the big leagues in 2007 at the age of 26. Since then, in 614 plate appearances, he has compiled a lifetime .286/.351/.376 line with 3 home runs and 41 RBI. It's possible he's a late bloomer, and it's also possible that the Nats are trading for him in the middle of his peak season.
Morgan is a plus defender, and will likely take over in center field -- though he has primarily played left field for the Bucs this season. He has very good speed, as his 18 stolen bases and defensive metrics will attest to, but he also leads the NL in caught stealing with 10.
Clearly, the Nats traded the possible upside of Milledge's potential for Morgan's current production. It's a dicey move to be sure, but the team apparently has grown tired of Milledge's mood swings and lack of preparation, making the Nats the second organization to do so in two seasons.
Burnett is a 26-year old left handed reliever. He has excelled so far this season as a lefty out of the pen. In 38 appearances, covering 34.1 IP, his splits have been very good (.189/.254/.396 v. LHB; .211/.357/.298 v. RHB), and has a 3/1 K/BB rate against lefties.
A failed starter, Burnett might have found his niche in the pen.
It's disappointing to see the team give up on Milledge and Hanrahan. Both players have many talents, but did not succeed the way the team envisioned this season.
Milledge should settle into left field for the Pirates and give them some pop and speed in that position, and Hanrahan -- if he can find the right mentor to bring out what's best in him -- will give them another big arm in the pen.
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