McLouth Trade to Atlanta for 3 Prospects

Nate McLouth was traded to Atlanta tonight, in return for SP Charlie Morton, OF Gorkys Hernandez, and SP Jeff Locke. I know this isn't a Jays story, but I think it deserves to be looked at to wage the trade market. First of all, why is it that some teams just tend to trade well between one another? The Braves and Pirates tend to make trades each year with one another, so do the GMs just get along that well, or is Pittsburgh just another of Atlanta's affiliates?

Trade Evaluation

To the Braves: OF Nate McLouth
The 28 year old's stats are pretty mediocre this season in comparison to his 2008 season. So far he has 9 HRs in 168 ABs for a .256 average, a 0.348 OBP, and a .407 SLG percentage. He also has 7 stolen bases. I guess that when you compare it to the output from other Atlanta outfielders, he looks like a rock star. Either way he should do much better in Atlanta where he'll get more opportunities to shine and may get a shot of motivation that was non-existent in Pittsburgh. McLouth bats from the left side, joining McCann, Johnson, Kotchman, and Anderson on the left side which balances the lineup fairly well.

To the Pirates

RHP Charlie Morton - 26 years old, pitches in AAA
2009 AAA Stats: 7-2, 10 GS, 64.2 IP, 55 Ks, 52 HA, 16 BB, 2.51 ERA
Morton should fit nicely into a #3 or #4 role with the Pirates some time this season. He is the most likely of the 3 prospects to have an immediate impact for the Pirates.

LHP Jeff Locke - 21 years old, pitches in HiA
2009 HiA Stats: 1-4, 10 GS, 45.2 IP, 43 Ks, 47 HA, 26 BB, 5.52 ERA
Locke was ranked the 7th best prospect in Atlanta by Baseball America this year and is highly touted. He was a second round draft pick in 2006 and although expectations are high, results have been mixed. BA projected him to become a middle of the rotation guy and that seems about right, with a time line of making the Pirates some time in 2011.

OF Gorkys Hernandez - 21 years old, playing in AA
2009 AA Stats: 212 ABs, 67 hits, 11 doubles, 2 triples, no homers, 10 stolen bases, caught stealing 8 times, .316 average.
BA had ranked Gorkys as the 4th best Atlanta prospect this season and noted his lack of power. He has no homers so far this season but has struck out much less often than he has in the past. I'm not sure how he'll fit in someone's starting lineup as an outfielder if all he does is hit for average. I've never been a fan of Gorkys. He has trouble stealing bases in AA, getting thrown out almost half of the time and doesn't hit enough extra base hits. I guess the Pirates were looking for a nice 4th outfielder and putting much of the value in the trade into Morton and Locke, even if Gorkys is "highly thought of" by many.

Overall I feel that it is a strange deal on both sides. While the braves didn't sell the farm to get McLouth, they're not getting any guarantees and have to endure his contract if he doesn't return to 2008 form. On the Pirates end it better work out because they just gave up the most talented guy in their lineup for 3 maybes. I'm sure Morton will do well enough to warrant part of the trade, but I'm not sure Locke will get the other half soon enough to make the deal worthwhile for them. Gorkys is just another piece thrown in the more I think of it, so I give the Braves the thumbs up here and the Pirates a big fat C. I know they could have gotten more elsewhere if they had waited long enough. The Pirates will need a new strategy to be successful, one that doesn't involve trading with the Braves.

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