The Braves, in a fight with the Nats for the NL East lead and holding a slim edge for the second wild card, filled two needs at the deadline Thursday when they added lefty reliever James Russell and the versatile Emilio Bonifacio from the Cubs.
It came at the price of switch-hitting catcher Victor Caratini, the Braves’ second-round pick a year ago.
Victor Caratini, c
Just 20, Caratini was the 65th pick overall a year ago, signing for $800,000. While the Cubs have a prospect bonanza in the infield and outfield, they were short inventory behind the plate because they see Kyle Schwarber, whom they drafted fourth overall this year from Indiana, as an outfielder or first baseman. The switch-hitter has a solid bat and shows consistent gap power. He has good hands that work at the plate and in the field as he was recruited as a third baseman.
“He’s a guy we liked in the draft a lot,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer told the Chicago Tribune. “We said all along catching is a weakness in our system that we don’t have enough of it.
James Russell, lhp
The Braves have been seeking a lefthanded reliever and they got one of the most durable and reliable ones in Russell. He’s posted the best groundball rate of his career this year (40.9 percent), but the worst command and is no mere lefty specialist, as he’s held righthanders to a .364 OPS. Lefthanders, however, who in his career he’s held to a .240/.276/.416 line, are torching him this year for a .295/.358/.525 slash line.
Emilio Bonifacio, if/of
The Cubs maximized Bonifacio’s trade value by pairing him with a valuable lefthanded reliever. Bonifacio is having a solid season at the plate and defensive metrics say he’s done a strong job at second, third and in center this season for the Cubs.