Braves get Arodys Vizcaino for La Stella

The Braves continue to make small moves to tweak the organization's pitching depth.

The Braves, who are desperate to build up a depleted farm system, will have more money to work with on the international market after a trade Sunday with the Cubs.

Atlanta dealt second baseman Tommy La Stella to Chicago for pitcher Arodys Vizcaino. In the deal, the Braves also get three of the Cubs’ international bonus pool slots (number two, three and four) for the Braves fourth international pool slot.

The net gain on the money the Braves will be able to spend on international players is $832,000, according to Baseball America.

La Stella had more starts than any other player for the Braves at second base in 2014. La Stella was called up in May to replace Dan Uggla as the starter and played in 88 games (86 starts). The Braves used a rotation at the position late in the season, which included La Stella, Phillip Gosselin, Ramiro Pena and Emilio Bonifacio..

La Stella hit .251 in 360 plate appearances, with a .328 on base percentage, one home run and 31 runs batted in. La Stella hit .280 through July with 24 runs batted in. Then in August and September La Stella hit only .174 with seven RBI.

With prospect Jose Peraza not far away from making an impact in the big leagues, La Stella’s role for the future with Atlanta was uncertain. His defensive questions made it unlikely he would have been kept Peraza from taking over the position. The Braves believe Peraza can take over at second base at some point in 2015.

If Peraza is not ready on opening day, the Braves could go with Gosselin, who made a lot of points with a late-season audition. Gosselin hit .266 with one home run, three RBI and 34 hits in 128 at bats. Plus, Gosselin has better defensive skills and can play shortstop, third base and even left field.

The Braves first got Vizcaino in the 2009 trade that sent Javier Vazquez to the Yankees. Melky Cabrera and Mike Dunn also came to Atlanta. Vizcaino made his big league debut with Atlanta in 2011 and pitched in 17 games out of the bullpen. He had a 4.67 ERA and struck out 17 batters in 17.1 innings.

Vizcaino then had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and was later traded to the Cubs at the trade deadline for Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson. It took him two full years to return from the TJ surgery, as he did not return to the mound until this past season. With three teams in the Cubs’ minor league system, Vizcaino had a 3.51 ERA in 40 games, with 42 strikeouts in 41 innings.

Chicago promoted him to the big leagues late in the season. Vizcaino pitched in five games and struck out four in five innings, with an ERA of 5.40.

Vizcaino likely projects as a potential bullpen arm for Atlanta. He just turned 24 last Thursday, and Vizcaino is still a year away from arbitration. So the Braves could trade another reliever (Jordan Walden maybe?) who is more expensive to open up more payroll and go with Vizcaino to help set up closer Craig Kimbrel.

Before his injury, Vizcaino had an outstanding fastball that reached the upper-90s, along with a tremendous curve ball. Reports have indicated Vizcaino’s fastball is back in the low-mid 90s and his curveball has returned.

The Braves will use the extra international money to help build up the farm system. This is a significant example of how the organization needs to increase the talent level to improve the minor league talent.

This is the second minor trade the Braves have made in three days. Atlanta traded minor league outfielder Kyle Wren to the Brewers Friday for right-hander Zach Quintana.

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