Who? Outfielder Nate McLouth of the Pirates. The 26-year-old left-handed hitter hit .258/.351/.459 with 13 home runs last season and would figure to split time with Jayson Werth in right field.
This latest rumor was reported by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports just a short time ago. His top story involves a potential blockbuster between the Marlins and Tigers that would send both Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit for prospects and young players. Down at the very bottom is this news of McLouth. [Link]
According to Rosenthal, the Pirates are aggressively shopping McLouth, a 25th round pick in 2000, who is seen as an option for the Phils, Cubs, Padres and Braves. As a side note, he also reports that Jose Guillen’s deal with Kansas City all but guarantees Aaron Rowand has moved out of the Phillies’ price range, as speculated by everyone.
In three seasons, McLouth is a .249/.322/.429 hitter with 25 home runs. His 13 knocks in 2007 set a career high, topping his highest single-season total in the minors. He’s a fairly versatile threat. He plays the entire outfield and can swipe some bags – 22 in 2007. Twelve of his 13 home runs last season came against right-handed pitching, against which he was an .828 OPS hitter.
Beerleaguer: The Nate McLouths of the world are a dime a dozen. Doesn't have the glove for center field, lacks the bat for the corners, but plays hard and has a nice attitude. He’s a fourth or fifth outfielder coming off what could easily become his career season. On a bad team like Pittsburgh, he’s a starting center fielder. As an extra outfielder on a good club, he's no better than average, maybe below. On the bright side, he’s an economic choice with speed and versatility. If it creates better flexibility to address the pitching, then the right field situation is the place to skimp with someone like McLouth.
Between Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Chris Snelling, possibly Greg Dobbs and McLouth, I would become just a little concerned with having too many marginal hitters in the outfield. For the first three months of 2007, he had one home run and an OPS around .650. McLouth also strikes outs more than he should, and a season ago, posted a .293 OBP.
I wonder whether defending division champs should be getting involved in players like McLouth, but hey ... that's just me.
Rumor roundup: Earlier today, it was reported the club is no longer interested in starter Jon Lieber. Kris Benson tops the list of free agent starters with baggage, according to one report, but general interest in Benson and the remaining free agents is lukewarm at best. Livan Hernandez is not high on the Phillies’ list, but Hiroki Kuroda, whose price tag has risen to four-years, $40 million, is still of interest. Third baseman Pedro Feliz is on the Phillies’ radar. They are talking with Geoff Jenkins’ people.