MLB: Braves get McLouth in deal with Pittsburgh
By Paul Newberry
ATLANTA ó The Braves acquired All-Star center fielder Nate McLouth from the Pittsburgh Pirates for three minor leaguers on Wednesday, a move to beef up Atlanta’s offense in hopes of contending in the NL East.
The 27-year-old McLouth set career highs last season with a .276 batting average, 26 homers and 94 RBIs. The Braves desperately needed more offense from an outfield that produced only 10 homers through the first 51 games.
Atlanta gave up outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, one of its top prospects, along with pitchers Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke.
McLouth, who is hitting .256 with nine homers and 34 RBIs this season, fills several needs for the Braves. In addition to bolstering the lineup, he won a Gold Glove in 2008 and finished that season with 23 stolen bases. Since the start of the ’05 season, he has the best stolen base percentage (64 of 69) in the majors.
Another plus: McLouth is under contract through at least 2011, having signed a three-year, $15.75 contract in spring training. The deal includes a team option for a fourth year at $10.65 million, with a $1.25 million buyout.
“He gives us everything we’re looking for,” Atlanta general manager Frank Wren said. “He gives us an extra outfield bat. He gives us speed. He gives us defense.”
It was a day of big moves for Atlanta. The trade was announced less than an hour after the Braves released 305-game winner Tom Glavine, saying they didn’t think the 43-year-old pitcher had shown during three minor league rehab outings that he could still be effective in the big leagues.Instead, the team called up highly touted prospect Tommy Hanson, who has dominated at Triple-A Gwinnett and will make his first major league appearance Saturday against Milwaukee.
“We didn’t want the season to get too far gone before we made some moves,” Wren said. “We thought some aggressive moves would put our club in good position.”
By trading McLouth, Pittsburgh cleared a spot for one of its best prospects, 2005 first-round pick Andrew McCutchen. The 22-year-old outfielder was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, where he was hitting .303 with four homers, 20 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said trading McLouth “may be the toughest decision we have made in my time with the organization.”Pittsburgh had coveted Hernandez when he was with the Detroit Tigers, before they traded him to Atlanta in an October 2007 deal for shortstop Edgar Renteria.
“A guy with impact speed, really play defense,” Huntington said. “A dynamic, athletic outfielder.”
Hernandez is headed to Double-A, and Locke will report to Class-A. Morton will go to Indianapolis.