Braves Acquire Maholm, Johnson From Cubs




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The Deal
The Braves added a back-of-the-rotation arm and a righthanded-hitting outfielder at the trade deadline, but the deal cost them the pitcher who ranked as the organization's No. 2 prospect heading into the season. Of course, that prospect, righthander Arodys Vizcaino, hasn't pitched in 2012 after having Tommy John surgery in the spring.

Vizcaino and fellow righty reliever Jaye Chapman head to the Cubs for veterans Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson in a trade that fortifies Atlanta as it makes a run for the National League wild card—and quite possibly the NL East division title. The second-place Braves trail the Nationals by 3 1/2 games as play begins in July 31. The acquisition of Maholm pushes Kris Medlen from a Braves rotation that will retain the services of Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Mike Minor and Ben Sheets. Johnson adds a righty bat (.890 OPS versus lefties this year; .836 career) to an outfield mix that features lefty-hitting starters Michael Bourn in center and Jason Heyward in right, while relegating Jose Constanza deeper down the depth chart, if not back to Triple-A. The Johnson pickup also allows the Braves to move regular left fielder Martin Prado back to the infield as necessary, where he can fill in for third baseman Chipper Jones or second baseman Dan Uggla.

The Cubs have tried for at least two weeks to trade veterans Ryan Dempster and Alfonso Soriano, but each has invoked 10-and-5 rights to block trades to the Braves and Giants, respectively. Chicago finally kick-started its sell-off late on the evening of July 30, shipping Maholm and Johnson to Atlanta and Geovany Soto to the Rangers. Dempster and Soriano could be next.
 
Cubs Acquire
Arodys Vizcaino, rhp
Age: 21. Born: Nov 13, 1990 in Yaguate, Dominican Republic.
Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190.
Bats: R. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Yankees, July 2, 2007 ... Traded by Yankees with OF Melky Cabrera, LHP Mike Dunn and cash to Braves for RHP Javier Vazquez and LHP Boone Logan, Dec. 22, 2009.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Has Not Played—Tommy John surgery

Vizcaino possesses the raw stuff to justify the hype, but also the injury history to explain why the Yankees and Braves were willing to trade him. He had Tommy John surgery toward the end of spring training and could be ready to resume throwing in earnest during spring training 2013. When right, Vizcaino sits 94-97 mph out of the bullpen and leans on a big-breaking, low-80s curveball as an out-pitch. He won't need his fringy changeup much if the Cubs continue to deploy him as a reliever. Assuming he regains his velocity, Vizcaino has closer stuff, and only fastball command stands in the way of him becoming a great reliever instead of a merely good one.
 
Jaye Chapman, rhp
Age: 25. Born: May 22, 1987 in Panama City, Fla.
Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 195.
Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Mosley HS, Lynn Haven, Fla.
Career Transactions: Selected by Braves in 16th round of 2005 draft; signed May 17, 2006.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Gwinnett (IL) AAA 3 6 3.52 40 0 7 54 46 31 21 3 29 60 1.40

Chapman is the rare righthander whose changeup functions as his out-pitch, but it's so good—many scouts grade it as a 60 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale—that he could carve out a big league career in middle relief. He ranked fifth among International League relievers with 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings at the time of the trade. Chapman scrapes 90 mph with a fringe fastball and typically sits 87-89, doing a good job locating the ball down in the strike zone. His lack of velocity disallows him from working above the knees. Chapman works in on lefty batters with a fringy, low-80s slider, but they actually hit him hard in Triple-A this season (.298/.394/.457 in 94 at-bats) after managing just a .636 OPS at the same level last year. A member of Atlanta's 40-man roster, Chapman has two option years remaining after this season.
 
Braves Acquire
Paul Maholm, lhp
Age: 30. Throws: L. Remaining Commitment: Under contract for $4.75 million this season (approximately $792,000 per month), then $500,000 buyout of 2013 option.
Contract details courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) Year W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Chicago (NL) 2012 9 6 3.74 21 20 0 120 115 51 50 12 34 81 1.24
3-Year Totals
24 35 4.25 79 78 0 468 503 242 221 38 146 280 1.39
 
Reed Johnson, of
Age: 35. Bats: R. Remaining Commitment: Under contract for $1.15 million this season (approximately $192,000 per month).
Contract details courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) Year AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Chicago (NL) 2012 .307 75 166 21 51 9 3 3 16 10 42 2 .361 .452
3-Year Totals
.293 288 614 78 180 42 6 10 59 20 155 6 .333 .430

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