The Braves have acquired right-handed reliever Scott Linebrink from the Chicago White Sox for minor league pitcher Kyle Cofield.
Linebrink will be the veteran reliever to compliment young Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters in the 2011 Atlanta bullpen. He was 3-2 in 2010 with the White Sox with a 4.40 ERA in 52 games. Linebrink did not record a save.
He's spent the past three seasons with the White Sox, with his best season coming in 2008 when he posted a 3.69 ERA in 50 games. Linebrink was one of the best middle relievers in the National League from 2003 through 2007, posting a 2.91 ERA with the Astros, Padres, and Brewers.
"Scott is a veteran pitcher who has experience in a variety of roles," Executive Vice President and General Manager Frank Wren said in a statement. "He will play an important part in our bullpen in 2011."
Linebrink is scheduled to make $5.5 million in 2011, the last year of a four-year contract he signed with the White Sox before the 2008 season. The Braves also receive cash considerations in the deal from Chicago.
Cofield was taken in the 8th round of the 2005 draft out of Gadsden, Alabama. He's battled control issues throughout his minor league career, walking 263 batters in 485 minor league innings.
Last season Cofield mostly pitched for Double-A Mississippi. He was 1-3 in 18 games (10 starts) and had an ERA of 4.39. The right-hander allowed 58 hits in 55.1 innings, with 23 walks and 38 strikeouts. Cofield missed some time last year with an arm injury. He's got an above-average curveball, with a very good fastball, but Cofield was considered a marginal prospect.
The Braves are expected to allow Kimbrel to get the first shot at the closer's job next spring. Linebrink will now join right-hander Peter Moylan and lefties Venters and Eric O'Flaherty as the setup men in the bullpen.
Last season Linebrink held opposing batters to a .203 (15-for-74) clip with runners in scoring position and posted a .083 (1-for-12) opponent's average with the bases loaded.
Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on
WPLA Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, Georgia and The Atlanta Baseball Show. Shanks writes columns for The Macon Telegraph. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/billshanks.
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