UPDATED AGAIN — the trade is a done deal, according to Mark Zuckerman. More info coming soon.
[UPDATED AT 3:05 P.M.]
Is Lastings Milledge’s time in the Nationals’ organization nearing an end? It certainly seems that way. According to major-league sources, the Nats and Pirates are deep in trade discussions and could finalize later today a deal that would send Milledge and reliever Joel Hanrahan to Pittsburgh in exchange for outfielder Nyjer Morgan and left-hander Sean Burnett.
The deal is not done yet, and could hinge upon Milledge’s injury status. He broke his ring finger trying to bunt while with Class AAA Syracuse on May 11, but began a rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Nationals over the weekend and played his third game with them yesterday. The Pirates likely want to make sure Milledge is 100 percent healthy before completing the trade.
Morgan, who turns 29 on Wednesday, is a speedy outfielder who has played primarily left field for Pittsburgh this season but has some experience in center field and would be looked at as a leadoff man by the Nationals. A late bloomer, he was a highly touted hockey player growing up and only turned to baseball once he realized he didn’t have a professional future on the ice. In 71 games this season, he’s hitting .277 with two homers, 27 RBI, 18 stolen bases and a .351 on-base percentage.
According to league sources, the deal would also include Hanrahan and Burnett in a swap of relievers. Hanrahan has struggled this season and twice was demoted from the closer’s role. Burnett is a former first-round pick whose career stalled after Tommy John surgery but who has reinvented himself as a reliever. The 26-year-old lefty has a 3.06 ERA in 38 appearances this season.
Nationals acting GM Mike Rizzo declined to comment when asked about the possible trade this afternoon.
Once the deal becomes official, the Nationals would need to remove someone else from their major-league roster, because they’re getting two big leaguers in exchange for one big leaguer and one minor leaguer. And since Morgan is an outfielder (and the Nats already have a glut of those) one strong candidate to leave would have to be Austin Kearns.
More to come…