McLouth deal not financially motivated
Coonelly: 'This is purely a baseball trade'
PITTSBURGH -- When Pirates management made the decision to deal away All-Star center fielder Nate McLouth, there's no question they expected the immediate local reaction not to be favorable.
Over the course of the organization's 16 consecutive losing seasons, Pittsburgh has seen star players and fan favorites dealt away time and time again. In fact, that's been so often the case that it's become almost expected every year.
On Thursday, though, members of the Pirates' brass emphasized, as they also had on Wednesday, that the organization did not actively seek to deal McLouth, and that there was no financial motivation behind trading him away.
"This is purely a baseball trade. It had nothing to do with money," Pirates president Frank Coonelly said. "If we were concerned about money, we wouldn't have signed Nate to a multi-year contract and taken that risk, and certainly wouldn't have structured the contract the way we did."
The multi-year contract that McLouth signed back in February had him making $3.5 million this season, but $1.5 million of that came in an upfront signing bonus, paid out already by the Pirates. As a result, there really is little money saved this season.
"The intent wasn't to sign-and-trade," general manager Neal Huntington said. "I almost feel badly that it's worked out that way. There really wasn't a consideration within the trade talks that we had just signed him. The intent was to sign these players to hopefully be able to build around them."
So is there concern that this could hurt the Pirates' effort to lock future players to long-term deals, since players have now seen that a multi-year deal doesn't necessarily mean that they will be in Pittsburgh for the majority of that contract?
"Any time a player discusses a multi-year contract, one of the things he thinks about is the likelihood of him staying in the organization," Coonelly said. "I don't think this would dissuade players from negotiating to get the security of a multi-year contract."
With the payroll not playing a part in this decision as it has in organizational decisions in the past, it wasn't until the Braves met the Pirates' specific demands that the Pirates shook hands.
Atlanta told the Pirates from the start that top prospects Tommy Hanson and Jason Heyward would not be included in any deal. With that established up front, the Pirates asked for -- and eventually received days after the Braves initially denied the offer -- prospects Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Locke.
"We decided, once they met our price for Nate, that it was a quality and quantity of players that we felt could be an impact to our organization. It was a move we had to make," Coonelly said. "Nothing in terms of the way the team has progressed this year caused us to think about trading Nate McLouth. Atlanta approached us and the players who we received were players that we had been looking at in the Atlanta system for quite some time."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.