Once upon a time Lastings Milledge was a top prospect whose on-field upside was clouded by his problematic personality. Three teams and 1,655 plate appearances later, it turns out maybe he just wasn’t all that good.
Milledge has hit just .269 with a modest .723 OPS in his five-season career, including .277 with a .712 OPS in 113 games this year, and last night the Pirates non-tendered him just before the midnight deadline.
The move came out of nowhere in part because Milledge is still just 26 years old, but mostly because he was arbitration eligible for the first time and would have been in line for a modest raise to around $1 million.
For the perpetually rebuilding Pirates to cut bait on him for that price shows that they soured on him completely in the 18 months since acquiring Milledge from the Nationals along with Joel Hanrahan for Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett.
General manager Neal Huntington told Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that the Pirates “remain open to continuing dialogue with Lastings” and possibly re-signing him for a lesser salary, but that makes little sense given that his salary would have been just $1 million or so. You don’t cut a player projected to make $1 million and then try to re-sign him for, say, $500,000 if you think he has any kind of upside.
On Monday evening, the Yankees and Nationals resumed a game from May 15 that was suspended due to inclement weather. The game was suspended after the top of the sixth inning with a 3-3 tie. That, and the next day’s game, were rescheduled for today, a month and three days later.
An interesting thing happened in that month and three days: Juan Soto made his major league debut. Soto, at the time of his promotion, was the minor league leader in home runs. He took his first major league at-bat on May 20, pinch-hitting in a game against the Dodgers. He struck out. He got his first start the next day against the Padres, going 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI.
When Soto stepped to the plate on Monday evening in the bottom of the sixth inning, technically he is considered to have done so on May 15. As fate would have it, he absolutely obliterated a 97 MPH fastball from Chad Green for a two-run home run. So he homered in his major league debut after having already made his major league debut. Does Soto have a DeLorean? On May 15, Soto was batting third for Double-A Harrisburg. He went 3-for-4 (all singles) with an RBI.
Michael Kay, citing the Elias Sports Bureau on the YES broadcast, said that it still considers Soto’s debut as having occurred on May 20, but he will have an asterisk denoting May 15’s suspended game. His first major league hit and RBI are still considered to have come on his three-run homer against the Padres. So there’s that.