Nate McLouth Rumors

Orioles Sign Nate McLouth

The Orioles signed Nate McLouth to a minor league deal, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports (on Twitter). The Pirates placed the outfielder on release waivers last week after designating him for assignment.

McLouth signed a one-year, $1.75MM deal with the Pirates this past offseason after spending two and a half years in Atlanta. The 30-year-old posted a .385 OPS in 62 plate appearances back in Pittsburgh and appeared at all three outfield positions. The Sparta Group represents McLouth.


Nate McLouth On Release Waivers

The Pirates have placed outfielder Nate McLouth on release waivers, Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (on Twitter). If McLouth clears waivers he'll be granted his unconditional release and hit free agency.

The Pirates designated McLouth for assignment six days ago following a disappointing encore in Pittsburgh. McLouth signed a one-year, $1.75MM deal with the Pirates this past offseason after spending two and a half years in Atlanta. The 30-year-old posted a .385 OPS in 62 plate appearances back in Pittsburgh.


Quick Hits: McLouth, Padres, Oswalt, Hamilton

It's never a good sign for a team when its catcher has the game's best pitching line.  Jeff Mathis' scoreless inning of mop-up work made him the only Blue Jay hurler to not allow a run in the Rangers' 14-3 drubbing of the Jays.  Nelson Cruz swung the hottest Texas bat, going 4-for-5 with a home run and eight RBIs.

Here's some more news from around the majors…

  • The Angels have "no real interest" in Nate McLouth, reports MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link).  McLouth was designated for assignment by the Pirates earlier today.
  • Major League Baseball has given approval for three ownership groups to review the Padres' financial records as a step towards possibly buying the team, reports MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom.  The groups are respectively headed by Thomas Tull, Peter O'Malley and Steve Cohen.  Tony Gwynn is affiliated with Tull's group, while O'Malley and Cohen also recently bid to buy the Dodgers.
  • Roy Oswalt needs to show some compromise if he really wants to pitch for the Rangers, writes Evan P. Grant for the Dallas Morning News (subscription required).
  • The Rangers should be willing to pay Josh Hamilton $180MM+ to keep him from leaving as a free agent, opines Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  "You don't let immense talent walk. Immense talent always stays. Even if you overpay, immense talent, the best talent in baseball, stays — warts, demons and all," Galloway says.
  • Juan Carlos Oviedo has received his visa and will arrive at the Marlins' minor league headquarters on Monday, reports Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  Oviedo and his representatives have not decided if they will appeal Oviedo's eight-week suspension for playing under a false identity as Leo Nunez.
  • The week's minor league transactions are recapped by Matt Eddy of Baseball America.


Pirates Designate Nate McLouth For Assignment

The Pirates announced that they designated outfielder Nate McLouth for assignment. The club recalled Matt Hague in a corresponding move.

McLouth signed a one-year, $1.75MM deal with the Pirates this past offseason after spending two and a half years in Atlanta. Now 30, McLouth was viewed as a future star when the Pirates traded him to the Braves three years ago. But he didn't hit in Atlanta and he has just a .385 OPS in 62 plate appearances back in Pittsburgh.

Hague, who appeared in five MLB games earlier this season, has a .278/.325/.333 batting line at Triple-A this year. The right-handed hitter has considerable minor league experience at first and third.


Pirates Sign Nate McLouth

The Pirates have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Nate McLouth, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). It's a big league deal worth $1.75MM, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  The Pirates have officially announced the signing.

The deal represents a reunion for the Pirates and McLouth, who was drafted by Pittsburgh in 2000 and spent nearly a decade in the organization before being traded to the Braves in 2009. After a disappointing two and a half year stint in Atlanta, the Braves declined McLouth's option for 2012, making him a free agent.

MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported earlier today that the Pirates were getting close to a deal to bring back McLouth.


Pirates Close To Deals With Betemit, McLouth

4:41pm: The Pirates are closing in on a one-year deal with McLouth, says MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. She adds that the agreement isn't expected to be finalized until Wednesday.

4:14pm: The Pirates are moving closer to deals with Wilson Betemit and Nate McLouth, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

We heard yesterday about Pittsburgh's interest in a reunion with McLouth, who hit .228/.344/.333 in 321 appearances with the Braves this season. Betemit, meanwhile, did not receive an arbitration offer from the Tigers and hit the free agent market coming off a season in which he posted a .795 OPS in 359 plate appearances in Detroit and Kansas City.


Pirates Interested In McLouth, Talking To Lee

7:31am: Pittsburgh is also talking with Derrek Lee, according to SI.com's Jon Heyman (on Twitter), though the first baseman has other suitors.

D-Lee came to the Pirates in a July trade, and while injuries limited him to just 113 plate appearances in with the Buccos, he absolutely mashed back within the familiar confines of the NL Central. Lee hit .337/.398/.584 and teed off on seven homers. The market for Lee has been pretty quiet thus far.

1:06am: The Pirates may add an outfielder this winter, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter), and they're interesed in reuniting with old friend Nate McLouth.

After a solid 2007 with the Buccos in which he hit .258/.351/.459, McLouth exploded in 2008 by hitting .276/.356/.497. He joined the 20-20 club that season, belting 26 big flies and swiping 23 bags while also leading the Senior Circuit with 46 doubles. That season led the Pirates to sign him to a three-year, $15.75MM extension, but he was traded to the Braves less than four months later for Gorkys Hernandez, Jeff Locke, and Charlie Morton.

After hitting .229/.335/.364 and battling hamstring and oblique injuries over two and a half seasons with the Braves, McLouth would cost only a fraction of the $6.5MM salary he earned in 2011. With Jose Tabata, Andrew McCutchen, Alex Presley, and Garrett Jones all in the outfield mix in Pittsburgh, McLouth would likely have to return in a reduced role.


Braves Exercise Option On Hinske, Decline On McLouth

The Braves announced today they've exercised their option on first baseman/outfielder Eric Hinske and declined their option on center fielder Nate McLouth.

The Braves chose Hinske's $1.5MM club option over a $100K buyout.  The 34-year-old hit .233/.311/.403 in 264 plate appearances this year.

The decision on McLouth was obvious, as the Braves faced a $10.65MM club option and a $1.25MM buyout.  The 30-year-old outfielder hit .228/.344/.333 on the season.


NL East Notes: Wilson, Brown, Mets, Hanley

Some news from the NL East…

  • "Folks seem to think the Nationals are going to make [a] big play for C.J. Wilson," tweets Jon Heyman from Sports Illustrated.  Heyman thinks the Nats will offer Wilson a contract worth around $75-80MM.  In August, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes thought Wilson could fetch a $100MM deal this winter given the lack of quality starters in the free agent market, but Wilson's postseason struggles will probably prevent him from that nine-figure contract.
  • Dealing Domonic Brown or keeping him in the minors in 2012 would be a short-sighted move for the Phillies, argues CSNPhilly.com's Casey Feeney.
  • "With supply seemingly exceeding demand" on the free agent closer market this winter, the Mets can look beyond the biggest names (Heath Bell, Francisco Rodriguez, Ryan Madson and Jonathan Papelbon) and still find a solid closer at a reasonable price, writes Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.  Rubin also says the Mets are looking for another left-handed reliever to pair with Tim Byrdak, as the club worries that Danny Herrera will become less effective as opponents become more familiar with him.
  • The Marlins haven't discussed moving Hanley Ramirez away from shortstop or asking Ramirez about a position change, club president David Samson tells MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
  • From that same piece, Samson says the Marlins will be "very active" this winter with their expected rise in payroll.  "We're going to be very aggressive, but we're not going to be foolish," Samson said.  "That's the key. When you raise your payroll, you've got to do it smartly, because if you don't, you are losing 90 games at a higher payroll."
  • The Braves haven't yet decided if they will exercise Eric Hinske and Nate McLouth's 2012 options, reports David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  McLouth's $10.65MM option will certainly be bought out for $1.25MM, that's a no-brainer.  As for Hinske, he's a useful reserve — he can play first base and both corner outfield spots, and he had a .754 OPS against right-handed pitching last season.  Hinske's option is worth just $1.5MM so my guess is Atlanta brings back the former AL Rookie of the Year.

Make Or Break Year: What Happened?

Before the season, MLBTR writers identified 13 players who were set for 'make or break' years. These players had experienced ups and downs in their respective careers and were positioned to re-establish themselves as difference makers at the Major League level and set themselves up for success in free agency.

We checked in on the players at the quarter pole of the campaign and again at its midway point. Let's do it again now that the regular season's over (all links go to the MLBTR posts):

Players whose seasons met or exceeded preseason expectations:

  • Aramis Ramirez - Ramirez had a strong season, hitting 26 homers and posting a .306/.361/.510 line as the Cubs' everyday third baseman.
  • Edwin Jackson - Jackson, a free agent after the season, completed 199 2/3 innings with a 3.79 ERA, 6.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 43.8% ground ball rate.
  • Bobby Abreu - Though Abreu's power dropped off, he managed a .353 on-base percentage and 21 steals. His 2012 option vested in July, so he should be back in Los Angeles for a fourth season with the Angels.
  • Carlos Beltran - A highly-coveted midsummer trade target, Beltran spent time on the DL with a strained right hand and wrist in August. His season line was .300/.385/.525, so agent Scott Boras will likely receive multiyear offers for the switch-hitter.
  • Jeff Francis - Francis pitched 183 innings with a 4.82 ERA, 4.5 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. He wasn't spectacular, but he made his starts, quieting questions about the condition of his left shoulder.

Players who had disappointing seasons due to injury or poor performance:

  • Scott Kazmir - Kazmir spent time on the DL, made one appearance for the Angels and posted a 17.02 ERA with more walks than strikeouts at Triple-A before getting released. The 2011 season could not have gone much worse for the former first rounder.
  • Nate McLouth - McLouth's .228/.344/.333 line is better than it was last year and features a respectable on-base percentage, but he missed the second half with oblique and abdominal injuries.
  • Jonathan Broxton - It was a lost season for Broxton, who recently had surgery to remove loose bodies in his right elbow and is looking at an incentive-based one-year deal in free agency.
  • Grady Sizemore - Sizemore got off to a hot start, but finished the season with a .224/.285/.422 line. Knee and abdominal issues limited him to 71 games and there's no guarantee that the Indians will pick up his $9MM option for 2012.
  • Joel Zumaya - Zumaya didn't pitch in a Major League game after undergoing elbow surgery in March.
  • Ryan Doumit - A sprained left ankle limited the 30-year-old to 77 games. When healthy, he posted a .303/.353/.477 line, but it doesn't appear likely that the Pirates will pick up his $7.25MM option.
  • Casey Blake - Blake hit .252/.342/.371 in 239 plate appearances and spent considerable time on the DL with a cervical strain. He had surgery in September and the Dodgers will decline his $6MM option for 2012.
  • Matt Capps - Capps saw his strikeout rate (4.7 K/9), ground ball rate (41.6%), average fastball velocity (92.9 mph) and innings total (65 2/3) drop this year, while his ERA rose nearly two runs to 4.25. At least he stayed healthy, unlike many on this list.