The Braves made a lot of trades last offseason – 12 to be exact. It took them less than two months to make their first major trade during the season, and it might be the first of several before the regular season ends in early October.
Atlanta will acquire third baseman Juan Uribe and pitcher Chris Withrow from the Los Angeles Dodgers for four players: pitchers Eric Stults, Ian Thomas and Juan Jaime, along with utility man Alberto Callaspo.
Uribe is in the last season of a five-year contract he signed with the Dodgers following two successful seasons with the San Francisco Giants. Uribe is hitting only .247 this season with one home run and six runs batted in. Last year, Uribe hit .311 and had nine home runs and 54 RBI.
When Uribe first came up with the Rockies in the early-2000s, he played all over the place, much like Callaspo. But Uribe has been limited to third base the last few years, with an occasional appearance at first, second and short for the Dodgers. He will not, however, be as versatile as Callaspo.
The acquisition of Uribe will coincide with the return of Chris Johnson from an injury that has kept him out since late April. Johnson is also somewhat limited to third base, with the ability to back up Freddie Freeman at first base when needed.
The Braves will now have two right-handed hitting third basemen. It will be interesting to see how the Braves use Uribe and Johnson for the next few months.
Withrow is rehabbing from the Tommy John surgery he had last June 3. He is expected back sometime late last season or perhaps even next April. Before he was injured, Withrow did very well for the Dodgers. Withrow pitched in 26 games in 2013 and 20 games in 2014. His combined numbers in 46 games: 3-0, 2.73 ERA, 30 hits allowed in 56 innings, 31 walks and 71 strikeouts.
Baseball America rated Withrow as the Dodgers’ sixth best prospect prior to the 2014 season. The Dodgers flipped Withrow to the bullpen in May of 2012. Withrow, who was the first round pick in 2007, had a fastball in the mid-upper 90s along with a curveball and occasional changeup before his injury.
Now 26, the Braves believe Withrow will be a solid option for the 2016 bullpen, perhaps even becoming a potential closer down the road if his recovery from the TJ surgery goes well and he regains his stuff.
Atlanta has tried to accumulate power arms for the bullpen. Withrow will join Shae Simmons and Danny Winkler (two more TJ patients currently rehabbing), along with Arodys Vizcaino as three pitchers not with the team now who could make an impact next season in the bullpen.
Callaspo came to spring training out of shape and never got on track for the Braves. He hit just .206 with a .293 on base percentage this season, playing at third base (28 games) and second base (four games). Callaspo initially vetoed the trade, but he realized the Braves were going to let him go anyway.
Stults actually pitched well Tuesday night against the Dodgers, the team he originally came up with in 2006. This year for the Braves Stults started out in the rotation but was recently replaced by Williams Perez. Stults was 1-5 with a 5.85 ERA in nine games (eight starts), with 48 hits allowed in 47.2 innings, 31 earned runs, 13 walks and 31 strikeouts.
Thomas pitched in 16 games last season and five games this year with Atlanta. Overall, he’s got a 3.94 ERA, with 14 hits allowed in 16 innings, 11 walks and 18 strikeouts.
Jaime started the season on the Atlanta roster, but he was ineffective in two games and quickly shipped to the minor leagues. Last year Jaime walked nine batters in 12.1 innings for the Braves, and then this season he walked batters in 1.1 innings. The Braves just never believed Thomas or Jaime would overcome occasional control issues to be effective relievers.
Lefty Donnie Veal will come up from Triple-A Gwinnett to replace Stults in the bullpen. He pitched in three games with Atlanta earlier this season and allowed four runs in 3.1 innings.
Financially the Braves only take on a bit of additional salary with this trade. Callaspo and Stults made a combined $5 million this season, while Uribe is getting $6.5 million in the last year of his contract.
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