In June of 2009, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded OF Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves for OF Gorkys Hernandez, SP Charlie Morton and SP Jeff Locke. Though the opinions on the trade were relatively split, the trade now looks like a massive victory for the Pirates.
Though McLouth was coming off a 2008 Gold Glove, he was blocking top prospect Andrew McCutchen from playing center field at the major league level. Since the time of the trade, McCutchen has massively outperformed McLouth, making the trade a victory simply from that perspective. Though McLouth’s three-year, $15.75 million contract looked like a good value at the time, he never lived up to that price.
Hernandez was considered to be the anchoring piece that the Pirates received, but he has actually offered the least value of the three. He was touted for his speed and glove, which proved to be real tools, but he has not hit well enough to hold down a job in the major leagues. In 2012, the Pirates flipped Hernandez to the Miami Marlins for 1B Gaby Sanchez. Sanchez is a good right-handed platoon player with Garrett Jones.
Pirates’ fans were always highly optimistic about Morton, though he has not truly put it together. Morton has always had plus stuff, but he has not been in the strike zone enough. Morton is recovering from an elbow injury, but he will reclaim his spot in the rotation in the coming weeks. His potential to be a top-half of the rotation starter remains, so the Pirates are still hopeful.
Locke has added the most value to the 2013 campaign. Locke has a 2.45 ERA in 69.2 innings this season. Though his BABIP, strand rate, FIP and xFIP all indicate some regression is in store, Locke has room to regress while still offering real value as the third or fourth starter for the Pirates.
McLouth finished his contract with the Braves, offering little value by the end. In 2012, he actually resigned with the Pirates – for under $2 million – as a bench outfielder. Though none of the prospects that the Pirates received have emerged as superstars, McLouth’s de facto replacement is a superstar. That fact alone makes moving McLouth and his contract a victory. However, receiving two cheap rotation guys and a bench bat makes the trade a real victory for the Pirates.
Gabe Isaacson is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.