After weeks of trade speculation, the Chicago Cubs finally pulled off a deal with the Atlanta Braves. Chicago sent starting pitcher Paul Maholm and reserve outfielder Reed Johnson to Atlanta in return for two minor league pitchers. Maholm and Johnson will provide the Braves with some veteran depth as they seek to catch the first-place Washington Nationals in the National League East.
Maholm got off to a slow start after signing as a free agent with the Cubs last winter. The veteran lefty has rebounded nicely over the past month, allowing one run or fewer in his last six starts. Maholm will likely push converted reliever Kris Medlen back to the Atlanta bullpen. Johnson is a solid role player who could get some at-bats off the bench for the Braves.
The Cubs received a pair of right-handed pitching prospects in the deal -- Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman. Arodys Vizcaino is the key player for Chicago. He was one of Atlanta's most highly regarded prospects following the 2011 season. The 21-year-old Vizcaino was impressive enough in three minor-league stops last season to earn a promotion to the major leagues. He performed admirably in 17 games with the Braves and figured to be a part of Atlanta's 2012 staff. Sadly, Vizcaino suffered an elbow injury in spring training that required Tommy John surgery. He has yet to pitch this season.
Chapman is a 25-year-old reliever who has spent the past two seasons pitching for Triple-A Gwinnett. He reportedly relies on a change up as his out pitch and lacks a dominant fastball. In 83 Triple-A, games Chapman has posted a 3.25 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. Chapman will likely get a chance to earn a major- league job with the rebuilding Cubs.
The Cubs did extremely well in dealing Maholm and Johnson. Vizcaino may never fulfill his pre-injury promise, but he's worth taking the risk. Chicago lacks top-flight pitching prospects and a healthy Vizcaino could get a crack at making Chicago's rotation next spring. Chapman has put up solid numbers in the minors and could end up being a solid middle reliever.
*Information provided by http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams.
Dan Soderberg is a freelance baseball writer who hopes to one day retire to the Wrigley Field bleachers.
- Sports & Recreation
- Paul Maholm
- Chicago Cubs
- Atlanta Braves
- Arodys Vizcaino
- Reed Johnson