Trade gets thumbs-up one year later

Trade gets thumbs-up one year later

CHICAGO -- General manager Neal Huntington pulled off his second stunning trade in a month on this date in June 2009, when the Pirates shipped Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett to the Nationals for outfielder Lastings Milledge and reliever Joel Hanrahan.

It wasn't a particularly popular trade initially, given Morgan's popularity among Pirates fans, Hanrahan's struggles earlier in the season and Milledge's troubled reputation. A complete assessment of the deal can't be made for years, but at the one-year mark, the Pirates aren't questioning the return.

Hanrahan has been a reliable arm at the back end of manager John Russell's bullpen. In the 63 innings he has logged since the trade, Hanrahan has posted a 3.00 ERA and struck out 72. The right-hander remains under the Pirates' control through 2013, and he is certainly a closing candidate down the road.

Burnett has had similar success since the trade, logging 51 2/3 innings in the past year with the Nationals. He has a 2.96 ERA and 44 strikeouts.

Although the relievers have both fared well in new surroundings, Morgan and Milledge have each had their share of bumps.

Although he didn't join the Pirates until the final day of July last year, Milledge has hit .281 in the five months since. But for a corner outfielder, his production -- five homers and 43 RBIs in 125 games -- is still lacking. Milledge hasn't yet been consistent enough to earn a permanent starting role, and he has shown some concerning defensive flaws.

Morgan took off running last season until a left hand injury ended his year in late August. The results in 2010, though, haven't gone nearly as well. Morgan is hitting .251 through 75 games and has the lowest on-base percentage (.312) of his career. He has swiped 17 bases, but Morgan has also been caught a Major League-leading 11 times.

"It is way too early to fairly evaluate the trade given the years of control that remain with each player," Huntington said. "I think the simplest statement is they seem pleased with their end of the deal, and we are pleased with our end of the deal."