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Pirates Bring Back Nate McLouth, But Why?

The Pirates have agreed to a one-year deal with former outfielder Nate McLouth, Ken Rosenthal reports. The terms aren’t yet clear, but it sounds like it’s a major-league deal.

The Pirates do need a bench outfielder (McLouth won’t start ahead of Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata or Alex Presley), but the idea that they’d sign McLouth to a major-league contract is disappointing. Putting aside fond memories of 2008 (and the way Pirates fans get so attached to certain players from terrible teams still surprises me, but it is what it is), McLouth can’t hit anymore, and Gold Glove aside, he was never very good defensively either.

McLouth has never hit all that well for average, but after he left Pittsburgh for Atlanta, any ability he did have completely vanished. He batted .190 in 2010 and .228 in 2011. It’s one thing if you’re a great defensive shortstop or catcher if you do that, but it’s something else entirely if, like McLouth, you’re stretched as a center fielder. McLouth is still a good basestealer and he’ll take a walk, but those abilities aren’t nearly enough to make up for the fact that all the evidence says he simply can’t hit anymore. If the Pirates had brought him in on a minor-league deal, that would be one thing, but a major-league deal means he’ll get a real salary and a roster spot. If the Bucs end up non-tendering the now-superior Garrett Jones as a result of this move, it will be pretty frustrating.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.