The Pittsburgh Pirates sent Nate McLouth to Atlanta in exchange for three prospects, according to a statement released by the Braves. Outfield prospect Gorkys Hernandez and pitching prospects Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke are headed to Pittsburgh in return for McLouth.
It's not surprising to see the Braves acquire some outfield help; none of their outfielders has an OPS above .700 and they're still well within striking distance in the NL East. McLouth was an All-Star in 2008 and despite an oblique injury, he was off to a good start in 2009, hitting .256/.349/.470 with nine home runs for the Pirates. In addition to his offense, he won a Gold Glove last year playing center field in spacious PNC Park.
For the Pirates, this is a bit more complicated. Everyone knows their new front office is rebuilding the club, but McLouth was signed affordably through 2011 and the Pirates aren't picking up either of the Braves' best prospects, Tommy Hanson, who was called up to Atlanta Tuesday, and Jason Heyward in the deal.
It's also almost certain that the Pirates will call up one of their own top prospects, Andrew McCutchen, to fill the newly-created hole in center field in Pittsburgh, but Pirate fans will likely be wondering if the team could've gotten more in return for one of the team's best players.
The answer to that question lies in McLouth's true value. Is he really a 26-homer, .500-slugging guy? Or will those power numbers settle a little bit? And even with that Gold Glove, there are questions about his defense, as most advanced metrics rate him pretty poorly.
What is a 20-homer center fielder with a decent glove and good speed worth? Is it more than Hernandez, Locke, and Morton? Did Huntington sell high here, or is he shipping away a perennial All-Star? These are the real questions Pirate fans need to be asking tonight.