Another trade was agreed upon with the Atlanta Braves sending second baseman Tommy La Stella along with an international signing slot to the Chicago Cubs in return for Minor League pitcher Arodys Vizcaino and three international slots in return. According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, those slots result in the Braves netting 832 thousand dollars to spend on international free agents. There is immediate speculation that the Braves are trying to acquire money to negotiate for Cuban middle infielder Yoan Moncada, but that may not be the case. The middle infielder gaining the most in this trade could be second baseman Jose Peraza who slashed .339/.364/.441 in the minors last year while stealing 60 bases.
In regards to the Cubs, it may seem as though they are stockpiling middle infielders, this may be the result of trying to address other needs. Rest assured, the Cubs are far from finished in tinkering with their roster. This could be a trade that will set other moves in motion but it appears that the Cubs have liked La Stella’s ability to get on base along with his command of the strike zone. Since the Cubs finished 12th in batting average and 13th in OBP in the National League last year, batters who can help in either area are needed as their wave of young talent arrives.
La Stella moves to the Windy City:
It is worth noting that Cubs beat writer Jesse Rogers likened this trade to the Cubs acquiring Chris Coghlan last off-season. Although he did not have a starting position at the time of the deal, he played himself into one. Taking their starting pitching out of the equation, Chicago as a team slashed .243/.305/.393 last season. Also, the Cubs struck out 1,353 times against only 432 walks in 2014. To say they need to rework their approach is an understatement. Enter Tommy La Stella who in his Minor League career had only struck out 102 times against 136 walks along with a .322/.407/.474 line. Although he will still need to make some adjustments at the Major League level, his at bats are what the Cubs are interested in. Here is La Stella’s season with the Braves last year:
Tommy La Stella 2014: 93 G, 22 R, 1 HR, 31 RBI, 2 SB .251/.328/.317
Although La Stella’s slash lines are a bit disappointing, he was able to post 36 walks against 40 strikeouts with the Braves in his 93 games. He may still be a work in progress and could end up as the utility infielder but his chances to contribute are much higher in Chicago than they were in Atlanta.
Arodys Vizcaino to the Braves and opportunity for Jose Peraza:
No matter how hard I try, I feel like Arodys Vizcaino is old since his high upside arm has been ravaged by injuries through the years, thus soiling his prospect status. I had stashed Vizcaino as a dark horse for the Cubs closer job last year due to his 96 MPH fastball that has nice tailing action and movement. Pair that with his 84 MPH curve and he has a nice two-pitch combo that could play well late in games as a either a set-up man or closer. With the move to Atlanta, the set-up option seems more attainable. Since this past season marks the first time he has pitched since 2011, the bullpen is where he will be in Atlanta. For his career in the minors, Vizcaino has a 2.99 ERA along with a 1.15 WHIP, but he did struggle a bit last year:
Arodys Vizcaino 2014 Minors: 40 G, 1 W, 41 IP, 42/18 K/BB, 2.99 ERA, 1.37 WHIP
Vizcaino did get a late look in Chicago last year but in his first full year back, a little rust had to be anticipated. With Atlanta though, he could slot nicely into a bullpen that could use another arm to pair with closer Craig Kimbrel.
Jose Peraza 2014 Minors: 110G, 79 R, 2 HR, 44 RBI, 60 SB .339/.364/.441
Atlanta stole a total of 95 bases in 2014. Peraza had two-thirds of that total by himself in the minors. I know that Billy Hamilton has provided a blueprint to not overestimate steals translating to the Major Leagues but there is much less support in Cincinnati than in Atlanta. If and when Peraza gets his chance in Atlanta, he will be hitting ahead of Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton unless other changes occur. There will be an adjustment period but keeper league players should firmly have him on their radar moving forward. A base stealing middle infielder will be a coveted commodity if Peraza can replicate his stolen base success in the Major Leagues. He is still maturing and will only be turning 21 in April of 2015. His career slash line in the minors is .306/.351/.390 and with the trade of La Stella, his chances of seeing time in Atlanta have gone up exponentially.
Statistical credits: MiLB.com, Fangraphs.com, BaseballAmerica.com, ESPN.com, Baseball-Reference.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/Ocu7hg (La Stella), http://goo.gl/eOpkjD (Peraza)
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Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!