There are two things the Atlanta Braves desperately needed to trade for, good bench players, and a lefty reliever. For the most part, they fulfilled their need. Atlanta sent 2013 second round pick, Victor Caratini to Chicago for Emilio Bonifacio and James Russell. Caratini is hitting .279 in Single A, can play third base, and catcher, and could be a very valuable asset to the Cubs. No, it’s not a blockbuster trade, but Atlanta’s Achilles heel this season for the most part has been their bullpen, largely in part due to their lack of lefty relievers. Luis Avilan has had an uncharacteristically rough 2014 season, last year he was absolutely lights out. In 2013, Avilan boasted a 1.52 ERA, and went a perfect 5-0 on the year only giving up one home run all season. This season, Avilan’s ERA has jumped up to 4.85 and he gave up two home runs before the All-Star break.
Andrew Miller of the Boston Red Sox was a lefty reliever the Braves had their eye on, and scouted for a while, talks had seemed to have fell through, and or just didn’t happen with Boston for Miller. The backup plan was to acquire James Russell from the Chicago Cubs, Russell has had a decent year with a 3.51 ERA, he’s an improvement from Avilan this season, and he brings versatility in the bullpen which the Braves desperately need. The X Factor of this trade really is Bonifacio, although he’ll most likely be brought into pinch hit, or pinch run, he’s a very solid on defense and can play just about every position. The Braves have had a rough time with pinch runners, getting caught stealing (mainly Jordan Schafer) and pinch hitters striking out (Schafer, Doumit, Pena) Bonifacio still strikes out, but he’s a much better upgrade because he’s a much better contact hitter than anyone they could bring in.
Overall, The Braves were able to kill two birds with one minor leaguer, they didn’t overpay and they didn’t need to give up any valuable assets. The Cubs, since trading Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, have acquired more minor league guys to develop, they’re going young, which could either help them in the future, or produce career minor league guys. This trade however, was low risk, decently high reward for both teams, it should be interesting to see how both sides make out in the future.