Interesting rumor popping up in a couple places today, both from fellow FanHouser Ed Price and DK’s blog; apparently the Pirates and Nats have discussed a swap that would send Nyjer Morgan to DC in return for Lastings Milledge, but the deal was held up when the Pirates asked for Craig Stammen to be included.
This is a really, really interesting rumor. Milledge is kind of in an Ian Snell situation in Washington; he’s got all kinds of talent, but the Nats are sick of his attitude and have had him in AAA this year where he’s nursing a broken finger. He’s only 24, and he hit .284/.344/.441 with 13 of his 14 homers after May 24th last year, and he might benefit from a situation where the spotlight is off of him and on Andrew McCutchen. On top of that, as a centerfielder by trade he’d likely be good enough in left to fill the cavernous PNC outfield. I know his defensive stats aren’t all that great, but he hasn’t really played consistently enough to make a firm judgment on that yet, and again, he’s still 24. He wouldn’t be as good defensively as Morgan is, but he might strike a nice balance between the good defense that the Pirates want in left and some offense to go with it.
Morgan, meanwhile, is what he is. He’s been a big surprise in the field, but even with his recent hot streak at the plate his OPS is below .700 and he’s leading the league in getting caught stealing. He’s 28 going on 29 (on July 2nd) and he’s just not ever going to be a good offensive player. I like the guy as a person quite a good deal and I’d love to be able to hide him in the eighth or ninth spot in the order, but I just don’t think that’s possible with a left fielder.
Stammen would be another arm to throw into the Ohlendorf/McCutchen/Morton mix; he’s not a great prospect but he’s got some upside and he’d be worth a shot. He shouldn’t hold this trade up on the Pirates’ end, if this rumor is true, but Milledge’s stock has dropped so far in DC that I guess it doesn’t hurt to ask for him. Of course, it is worth wondering how much water this holds; it really makes hardly any sense at all from the Nationals’ perspective because I’d think that Milledge, even with his attitude problems and injury this year, would be worth way more than Nyjer Morgan. What it comes down to, though, is that Morgan is never going to be more valuable than he is right now and Milledge is likely never going to be less valuable. If this is anywhere within the realm of possibility, Huntington needs to make it happen.