"The reality is we are giving up two quality people," Pirates GM Neal Huntington said. "Two players that did a very nice job for us at the major league level this season and as always these trades are not easy. The bottomline for us is the upside and potential. The two players that we're getting in return Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan are guys that we think can play quality roles for us as we return to winning baseball here in Pittsburgh. Both players we feel have the upside to be solid to above average major league players, and that's why the trade happened."
Milledge, 24, began the season with Washington and spent a majority of the 2009 campaign with Triple-A Syracuse. He was on a rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Nationals at the time of the trade due to a broken finger on his right hand suffered on May 11 while playing with Syracuse.
Originally selected by the Mets in the first round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft (12th pick overall), Milledge made his Major League debut and was the youngest player in the big leagues in 2006 when he hit .241 with four home runs and 22 RBI in 56 games for New York. He was rated by Baseball America as the best prospect in the Mets system prior to both the 2005 and 2006 campaigns. Milledge was a member of the Opening Day roster with the Mets in 2007 and hit .272 with seven home runs and 29 RBI in 59 games with New York that season.
The Washington Nationals acquired Milledge from the Mets in exchange for outfielder Ryan Church and catcher Brian Schneider on 11/30/07. He spent a majority of the 2008 season as Washington’s starting center fielder and hit .268 with 14 home runs, 61 RBI and 24 stolen bases in 138 games. Milledge led the Nationals in RBI and stolen bases and was one of 17 big league players in 2008 with at least 20 stolen bases and 14 home runs.
"Hanrahan had a strong season in his first year as a relief pitcher in 2008 and has the arsenal to pitch in late game situations in a quality Major League bullpen," Huntington stated. "Milledge was one of the premier prospects in baseball. He is still young enough and has the tools to develop into an above average Major League player. We have the confidence in our staff to help each of these players reach their high ceilings."
The 27-year-old Hanrahan is currently leading the Nationals in saves (5) and innings pitched (32.2) among relievers while ranking second on the staff in appearances (34). He began the 2009 season as the closer for Team USA during the World Baseball Classic and posted a 1.80 ERA(5.0ip/1er) in six games during the tournament.
Originally selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, Hanrahan was signed by Washington as a minor league free agent on 11/6/06. The 6’4” righthander made his Major League debut with the Nationals in 2007 and posted a 5-3 record in 12 big league games (11 starts) that season.
Hanrahan was converted from a starter to a reliever prior to the 2008 season and went 6-3 with nine saves and a 3.95 ERA in 69 games with Washington last season. He also struck out 93 batters in 84.1 innings of work, posting the second-highest total of strikeouts among National League relief pitchers.
Hanrahan is expected to join the Pirates in Pittsburgh and Milledge is scheduled to complete his rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Pirates before being assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Morgan, who turns 29 on Thursday, was hitting .277 with two home runs, 27 RBIs and 18 stolen bases in 71 games this season, his first full season in the major leagues.
"I'm a little shocked," Morgan explained. "It's business and it's part of it. I'm just very, very happy that I opened somebody's eyes and somebody wants me. I look at it as a positive thing not a negative thing. I loved going to war with these boys here and it's unfortunate that I have to go, but that's part of business."
Burnett, 26, was 1-2 with one save and a 3.08 ERA in 38 relief appearances.
"I'm shocked," Burnett said. "I came to the ballpark expecting to play tonight and heard rumors from a couple of the guys. And while we were playing cards it was official. It's tough this is all I know."