The Cubs acquired infielder Tommy La Stella from the Braves, as well as Atlanta’s No. 4 international signing bonus slot, for right-handed pitcher Arodys Vizcaino and three international signing bonus slots (slot Nos. 2, 3 and 4).
La Stella, 25, made his Major League debut with the Braves last season and led NL rookies with 36 walks and a .328 on-base percentage. In 93 games, he batted .251 (80-for-319) with 16 doubles, one home run and 31 RBIs, and compiled a .984 fielding percentage in 88 games at second base. He began the year at Triple-A, his first time at that level, and hit .293 (49-for-167) with a .384 on-base percentage in 47 games for Gwinnett prior to his promotion to the Majors.
Vizcaino, 24, pitched in five September games for the Cubs last season and posted a 5.40 ERA in his first Major League action since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March of 2012. He was acquired from the Braves with right-handed pitcher Jaye Chapman, on July 30, 2012, for left-handed pitcher Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson.
With the moves, the Braves added $832,000 in international bonus pool money by trading La Stella plus the No. 4 slot to the Cubs for Vizcaino plus slots 2, 3 and 4.
La Stella did hit one home run in his first big league season, and that came off the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg on Aug. 8.
“We have enough firepower around where we don’t need anything crazy,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said when La Stella was promoted in May. “We don’t need anybody to come in and win the batting title or the home run title. Get on base and give us an opportunity to lengthen our lineup.”
La Stella replaced Dan Uggla at second for the Braves.
“He’s a guy that’s going to split the gaps, get on base,” Gonzalez said of La Stella. “He’s got great plate discipline. It’s good to be able to have that in your lineup. It’s nice to have that change, and hopefully he gives us something.”
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs acquired right-handed pitcher Marcelo Carreno from the Tigers to complete the Aug. 5 trade for infielder Jeff Baker. Carreno, 21, went 9-8 with a 3.23 ERA in 27 starts for Class A West Michigan, striking out 119 batters and walking 28 over 139 1/3 innings. He was ranked No. 11 prospect in the Tigers’ system by MLB.com The trade is now complete, with the Cubs receiving Carreno and a cash consideration for Baker. Baker, 31, batted .269 in 54 games with the Cubs before he was dealt to the Tigers, and batted .200 in 15 games with them before he was designated for assignment on Aug. 31, then traded to the Braves. He was 2-for-19 in 14 games with Atlanta.
— Carrie Muskat
On Sunday, the Cubs claimed left-handed pitcher Alex Hinshaw off waivers from the Padres. Hinshaw was selected by the Padres on May 8, and went 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 31 relief appearances. It was his first big league action since 2009. He struck out 36 over 28 innings, and walked 20 before he was designated for assignment on Aug. 14.
For the season, the lefty limited hitters to a .217 batting average, including .196 by left-handed hitters. In 88 career Major League relief appearances with the Giants and Padres, Hinshaw is 3-2 with a 4.52 ERA. He was originally selected by the Giants in the 15th round of the 2005 Draft.
To make room on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Arodys Vizcaino was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Vizcaino, 21, was acquired from the Braves on July 30 in the four-player deal that sent Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta. He had Tommy John surgery in March but was expected to be ready for 2013 Spring Training.
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs have signed left-handed pitcher Horacio Ramirez to a Minor League contract, and he was assigned to Triple-A Iowa. Ramirez began the season playing independent ball with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League. He was 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA, giving up eight earned runs over 36 2/3 innings in 12 games (six starts). He was originally drafted by the Braves in the fifth round of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft. Ramirez has played for five different teams, making his ML debut in 2003 with the Braves as a starter. He also has pitched for the Mariners, Royals, White Sox and Dodgers. A California native, he is 40-35 with a 4.65 ERA (356 earned runs/688 1/3 IP) and 318 strikeouts.
The Iowa Cubs also announced right-handed pitcher Jaye Chapman, acquired from the Braves in the Paul Maholm-Reed Johnson deal, was placed on the disabled list with a strained elbow, retroactive to Aug. 14. Chapman, acquired along with pitcher Arodys Vizcaino, was 3-6 with seven saves and a 3.52 ERA in 40 relief appearances with Triple-A Gwinnett this year. In six appearances with the I-Cubs, he gave up eight earned runs over 7 1/3 innings.
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs would’ve preferred that Ryan Dempster had a dozen teams he wanted to be traded to but the right-hander made it clear the Dodgers were No. 1 on his list, and Theo Epstein said it isn’t fair to portray the pitcher as being selfish in his stance. On Tuesday, the Cubs dealt Dempster to the Rangers for two Minor League players after they were unable to complete a deal with the Dodgers. Los Angeles gave Epstein a list of untouchable players, and didn’t budge. Dempster had the final say because he has 10-and-5 rights.
Two or three days before news broke on July 23 that the Braves and Cubs had consumated a deal, Epstein told Dempster that Atlanta was very interested and to consider that team. The day before, Epstein told Dempster the Braves weren’t going to wait long for a decision. The Cubs and Braves then finalized the names.
“Ryan never got the opportunity for more than an hour to fully contemplate Atlanta with a deal actually in place,” Epstein said. “I feel for him. Instead of having time to contemplate it privately, he had everyone telling him what to do and asking questions about it. I think it’s hard to criticize him.”
Dempster never said he didn’t want to be traded to the Braves. He was holding out for a chance to go to the Dodgers.
“He didn’t say ‘no’ — he said, ‘not now,'” Epstein said. “He said, ‘No, I’m not going to go to Atlanta until I see about L.A.’ Atlanta very reasonably didn’t want to wait around and risk not getting a pitcher. He had a place he wanted to go, and a clear No. 1, which is his right, and he wanted to see that through and I don’t hold that against him.”
Any criticism directed at Dempster isn’t warranted, Epstein said.
“It’s not fair for anyone to criticize Ryan unless they’ve been in that spot,” Epstein said. “It’s a right he’s earned. Do we wish he would’ve had 12 places that were an ideal destination for him instead of one? Sure. That Atlanta deal that we had lined up, I felt was an outstanding deal for the organization. Would we have liked to have executed it? Absolutely.”
The Cubs were to get 22-year-old Randall Delgado in exchange for Dempster. Instead, they were able to still complete a deal with the Braves, sending Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson for two Minor League pitchers.
In the final hour before the Trade Deadline on Tuesday, Dempster was with Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer to listen to conversations with the Dodgers.
“Once he came into our office and actually heard the conversations we had with L.A., he came to realize, ‘OK, that’s not actually going to happen, let me consider a couple other places,’ and the deal got done with about three minutes left,” Epstein said.
Dempster, Epstein and Hoyer were able to joke about the talks prior to the Trade Deadline.
“I know it started to be characterized in the media as contentious, and it wasn’t at all,” Epstein said. “Had we made that trade with Atlanta, we don’t get [Arodys] Vizcaino for Maholm and Johnson. Everything worked out in the end.”
— Carrie Muskat
Ryan Dempster’s decision to block a deal to the Braves may have benefitted Atlanta. One week ago, the Cubs and Braves had a deal in place which would’ve sent Dempster to Atlanta for 22-year-old pitcher Randall Delgado. But Dempster apparently exercised his 10-and-5 rights, and said no. Now, the Braves have a starting pitcher and an experience right-handed bat on the bench after Monday night’s deal which sent Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta for two Minor League pitchers. The Cubs are looking to the future. They get heralded right-handed pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino and Minor League right-hander Jaye Chapman.
“It was a perfect fit for us,” Braves GM Frank Wren told reporters in Atlanta Monday night, including MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. “We got two real key pieces for us that we were looking for. If we are done, if nothing else materializes for us [Tuesday], we’ll be very happy with where we are right now.”
Vizcaino, ranked as the Braves’ third-best prospect by MLB.com, is a hard-throwing right-hander who spent the final two months of the 2011 season in Atlanta’s bullpen. He underwent Tommy John surgery in March. Once he is healthy, the 21- year-old hurler has the potential to be a dominant force at the back end of the bullpen or possibly a starting pitcher.
“He’s a good-looking young pitcher and we gave up a quality prospect,” Wren said. “But to not give up some of the guys that have been mentioned, that was a real plus for us. The Cubs are in a different spot than we’re in. They’re looking for a long-range young pitcher that they can hold on to for a long time. We’re in a spot where we feel like we have a team that can win.”
When the Braves began their search for a starting pitcher, they put Zack Greinke at the top of their wish list. It appeared they had Dempster but once he rejected that deal, the Braves began looking at other options. Maholm is 5-0 with a 1.02 ERA in his last six starts.
“The thing that kept coming back from scouts is that he is not going to give in,” Wren said. “When I say that, he’s not going to throw a fastball just because he’s behind in the count. He’s not going to throw you a fastball in fastball counts. He’s going to pitch his game and he’s been very good at that.”
The Cubs also will send some cash to the Braves. Maholm isn’t just a rental; he has a $6.5 million option for the 2013 season. His presence allows the Braves the choice to send Kris Medlen back to the bullpen after he makes his first start of the year on Tuesday.
Wren said he tried to acquire Johnson before last year’s Trade Deadline and has always liked the talented outfielder. With some uncertainty surrounding Matt Diaz’s injured right thumb, the Braves had an even greater need to acquire Johnson this year. Johnson has batted .307 with three home runs and a .807 OPS in 166 at-bats with the Cubs this season. The 35-year-old outfielder has batted .280 with a .743 OPS in 161 career pinch-hit at-bats.
“He gives you a professional at-bat and he plays the game the right way,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to find right-handed hitters who can play center field and left field as well. With our club, that is so important. We need another right- handed hitter that you feel comfortable to put out there for a number of at-bats.”
— Carrie Muskat
On Wednesday, Braves GM Frank Wren said the team is “moving on” and no longer trying to acquire Ryan Dempster. During an interview on 680-AM The Fan in Atlanta, Wren said the deadline had passed for a deal to be completed. Dempster has 10-and-5 rights, and can veto any trade. The Dodgers were believed to be still pursuing Dempster.
“I think it’s very highly unlikely,” Wren said. “We put parameters on the deal that expired [Tuesday]. We were moving on from the time we heard that there was the potential of another club being really where he wanted to go. And he had a lot of personal reasons for that.
“We haven’t stopped pursuing other pitchers. We’ve had scouts in ballparks seeing everyone. It’s one of those bumps in the road but at the same time we put parameters on it that expired yesterday so we’ve moved on.”
When asked about Wren’s comments, Randy Bush, Cubs assistant general manager, said: “We can let his comments stand.”
— Carrie Muskat
Here’s Braves GM Frank Wren’s take on the Ryan Dempster situation:
“If this deal materializes, we have the framework of a deal with the Chicago Cubs,” Wren said Tuesday. “If it doesn’t, then if something else were to present itself, then they know we are going to move on to other things.
“The unfortunate part is that it got public,” Wren said. “These things happen. But when players have no-trade (clauses), whether contractual or as a 10-and-5, it creates additional difficulties for all of us to complete because once there is a window of opportunity for stuff to get out, it’s out. It just does. That’s the way it is in today’s world.
“It was an opportunity to get one of the premium arms in this Trade Deadline market and arguably the guy that is pitching the best in baseball,” he said of Dempster. “That’s the positive side. The negative side is that it hasn’t gone through as quickly as we would have liked.”
Dempster will start for the Cubs on Wednesday.
— Carrie Muskat
We may find out whether Ryan Dempster will accept a trade to the Braves on his Twitter account. Today, he tweeted: “Nothing official to report. You will be the 1st to know. Thnx to all my fans for the support
The Cubs and Braves have reportedly reached agreement on a deal which would send Dempster to Atlanta for 22-year-old pitcher Randall Delgado. It’s up to Dempster to decide. He has 10-and-5 rights — 10 years in the Majors, five with the same team — and can veto any deal.
Reports that Dempster was “blindsided” by the deal are incorrect. Sources say he did know about the Braves offer, but was surprised at how public the deal became before he had made his decision. Dempster’s next scheduled start would be Wednesday for the Cubs against the Pirates.
— Carrie Muskat
Ryan Dempster most likely will be dealt before the July 31 Trade Deadline, just not on Monday to the Braves. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported that the Braves have reached an agreement to acquire Dempster from the Cubs. But the deal has not been officially completed. Because Dempster has played in the Majors for at least 10 years and has been with the same team for at least five years, he has the right to veto any trade.
Dempster, who leads the Major Leagues with a 2.11 ERA, declined to comment Monday on the rumors. He did deny reports that a deal had been completed on his Dempster Family Foundation Twitter (@RyanDempsterFDN), saying, “THERE IS NO TRADE dont know where this info came from!”
Cubs assistant GM Randy Bush said Monday: “There’s nothing to report.” Manager Dale Sveum wasn’t too happy with how the rumor spread.
“I found out when I came in off the field from early [batting practice],” Sveum said. “Somebody said they saw it on the [Cubs] website, so I got on the website and saw it, and called the higher ups to make sure, and they’re like, no, nothing’s happening, I don’t know where that came from. That’s where we are with that.”
The “higher ups” would be Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, and general manager Jed Hoyer, and neither would comment on the report. Sveum didn’t deny that a deal could happen. There’s still time.
“The team, the whole thing was news to me — the team obviously is the one that leaked it out, or it came out of their city,” Sveum said of the Dempster to Braves reports. “Obviously, we can’t sit here and say it can’t happen. Anything can happen at this point. We have eight days until the deadline. All the teams that are involved and want starters and need starters are all in play.”
Was it unfair for Dempster to go through this?
“I think it’s very unfair for ‘Demp’ to have to have to deal with this,” Sveum said. “He’ll have to deal with it today, deal with it tomorrow. I’ve had five phone calls — ‘Hey, did you guys trade Dempster?’ You can only imagine what he has to go through. It’s very unfair for anybody to go through something that’s a complete fabrication.”
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez couldn’t elaborate on the reports.
“I know what you guys know, basically the same thing, maybe a little bit more I’m not going to lie to you about that,” Gonzalez told the media in Miami. “But that’s all I know right now. We’re in a holding pattern.”
It was no secret the Cubs were trying to deal Dempster, 35, before the deadline but it was his call as to where he’d go. He had given Epstein a list of which team he would prefer.
— Carrie Muskat