Pirates trade OF Nady, LHP Marte

PITTSBURGH (TICKER) —The Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday reportedly traded outfielder Xavier Nady and lefthander Damaso Marte to the New York Yankees for righthander Ross Ohlendorf and three minor leaguers - outfielder Jose Tabata, righthander George Kontos and lefthander Phil Coke.

Completion of the deal is pending per medical reports on all the players involved, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington confirmed.

Nady was removed from Friday’s 6-5 loss to the San Diego Padres in the second inning for undisclosed reasons and was replaced in left field by Jason Michaels.

“We have put a deal in place, pending medical review, to trade Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte,” Huntington said. “Once the medical review is finished, we will able to provide you with a lot more detail and a lot more information.”

“When you hear those names, I don’t think anyone can expect to get two quality players like that in their prime to help our team,” Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said.

Nady was one of the most sought-after names on the trade market due to a career year that has him fifth in the National League with a .330 batting average to go along with 13 homers and 57 RBI. He will add a righthanded bat to New York’s lineup, which generally features just three other righthanded hitters.

“They were two special guys in our clubhouse and two special guys on the field and, obviously, they will be dearly missed,” Pirates manager John Russell said of Nady and Marte. “The relationships we built with them and they built with the team, I think anybody who’s been following us has noticed, it’s been a real close-knit bunch.”

Nady is in his seventh season in the major leagues, having spent time with the San Diego Padres and New York Mets as well.

“He’s always played well against us,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter said of Nady. “Obviously played against us a few times with the Mets and Pittsburgh - and Marte is a great pitcher as well. We got them for a reason and hopefully they come in and help us out.”

“I think it helps out the team not only now but in the long run,” New York outfielder Johnny Damon said of Nady. “He’s one of the most underrated players around and I think he’s one of the best outfielders in the game. The at-bats he puts together, he just knows how to play.”

Nady’s exit presumably opens the door for top prospect Andrew McCutchen, who is batting .280 with nine homers and 26 stolen bases at Class AAA Indianapolis and is considered Pittsburgh’s center fielder of the future.

“It was a little odd,” Pittsburgh left fielder Jason Bay said of Nady and Marte leaving during Friday’s game. “You don’t see that a lot. It just caught a lot of people by surprise. The first couple of innings, it was almost like the game became secondary. And I think that once everybody got over the initial reaction of that in the fourth or fifth, then all of a sudden, it was right back to baseball.

“But I think it’s only human that there was some reaction and that there was a little bit of a lull.”

Marte, who has been filling in as the Pirates’ closer with Matt Capps on the disabled list, is 4-0 with a 3.47 ERA and will slot nicely into a Yankees bullpen that currently is without a lefthander. He has held lefthanded hitters to a .198 average in his career, though that mark is up to .255 this season.

“To lose those two guys obviously is an emotional blow for us a little bit,” Russell said. “But we are also very excited for them. They get an opportunity to do something. And it’s also a move where we want to be a very competitive team here for a long time. We felt that this was the best move for the Pittsburgh Pirates, as well as being a very good move for (Nady) and Damaso.”

“He’s high energy, throwing legs, arms, everything at you,” Damon said of Marte. “He’s not a comfortable at-bat at all. The fact that we don’t have a lefthander in the bullpen, this guy could be one of the better ones in the league.”

Marte briefly was property of the Yankees in 2001 but never appeared in a major league game for the franchise before being traded to the Pirates in exchange for Enrique Wilson.

“It’s tough to replace guys like that, but this isn’t the first trade that was ever made in baseball,” Bay said. “It’s part of the game. You just go out there, and whoever we got coming, you hope they’re the next Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte.”

The jewel of the crop going back to the Pirates is Tabata, who has been one of the Yankees’ top prospects since being signed out of Venezuela in 2005. Baseball America ranked him as the No. 3 prospect in New York’s system entering this season due to his ability to make solid, hard contact and his power potential.

However, Tabata’s stock has fallen due to his struggles both as a hitter and a teammate as a 19-year-old at Class AA. He was pulled from a contest in June and suspended three games in April for disciplinary reasons.

Tabata has been sidelined since July 1 with an injury.

Ohlendorf has struggled as a rookie in the bullpen for New York, going 1-1 with a 6.53 ERA. A starter in the minors, the righthander could provide immediate help to the Pirates, either in the bullpen or the rotation.

Kontos has struggled at Class AA Trenton, going 3-9 with a 3.77 ERA while issuing 43 walks in 107 1/3 innings.

Coke was pulled from his start at Trenton on Friday after one inning. He is a combined 9-5 with a 2.76 ERA in 21 games - 20 starts - with Trenton and Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Both Coke and Kontos will add depth to Pittsburgh’s system, which is short on pitching prospects.

“We are excited to be able to talk about the players we are getting back,” Huntington said. “If the deal goes through, we feel like we are adding quality depth to our organization. As we’ve talked about from the beginning, in order to be a successful, sustainable championship-caliber organization that plays meaningful games into September and October, we need to have options.

“We’ve not had the necessary depth to be able to sustain injury, to sustain less than optimal performance. This deal, if it goes through, will begin that process of accumulating that necessary depth.”

For Jeter, the trade was just business as usual for the Yankees.

“With the Yankees, our ownership always gives us an opportunity to win,” he said “It’s really not surprising. It seems like every year if they feel as though we need some pieces to win, they go out and get them. This year is really no different than any other.”

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Updated Saturday, Jul 26, 2008