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Cubs send Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson to Atlanta; Geovany Soto to Texas

Jul 30, 2012, 10:53 PM EST

Reed Johnson AP

The Cubs started the unloading process Monday night, shipping left-hander Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson to the Braves right-handers Jaye Chapman and Arodys Vizcaino and catcher Geovany Soto to Texas for right-hander Jacob Brigham.

Maholm satisfies the Braves’ need for a starter after the team originally tried trading for fellow Cub Ryan Dempster. Maholm has been on an incredible roll of late, going 5-0 with a 1.00 ERA since June 29. He can also be kept for 2013 at a modest $6.5 million under the terms of a team option on his contract.

Johnson should prove to be a nice upgrade over the currently injured Matt Diaz as an occasional starter against left-handers. He was hitting .307/.361/.452 in 166 at-bats this season, including a .333/.379/.543 line in 81 at-bats versus southpaws. He’s a free agent at season’s end.

MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports that top outfield prospect Brett Jackson has been pulled from the game for Triple-A Iowa, suggesting that he’ll be promoted to replace Johnson on the roster. The strikeout-prone Jackson was hitting .255/.337/.482 for Iowa.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported the names in the Maholm deal. Chapman, 25, is a potential setup man or maybe a closer with his big fastball. He has a 3.52 ERA and a 60/29 K/BB ratio in 53 2/3 innings for Triple-A Gwinnett this season. Expect to see him get his first look in the majors soon.

Vizcaino’s inclusion in the deal is a surprise, considering that the 21-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery this spring. The Braves moved him to the pen last year, and he was pretty impressive while posting a 4.67 ERA in 17 appearances after a late-season callup. It will be interesting to see if the Cubs move him back to the rotation or leave him in the pen next spring. He certainly has big-time upside in either role, and the Cubs can afford to be patient if they decide to let him start.

According to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, Soto was traded for Brigham, a 24-year-old who has gone 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA and a 116/46 K/BB ratio in 124 innings for Double-A Frisco this season. The 2006 sixth-round pick is an unlikely major leaguer, but perhaps the Cubs see something they think they can turn into a middle reliever. They weren’t planning to bring Soto back in 2013 anyway.

Soto will back up Mike Napoli in Texas after Yorvit Torrealba was designated for assignment and will likely get some starts against left-handers behind the plate when Napoli starts at first base or DH. Torrealba figures to be traded. Since Soto is making $4.3 million this year and is probably due a modest raise this winter despite his poor .195/.278/.345 line this year, he’s a strong candidate to be non-tendered.

  1. meadowlark89 - Jul 30, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    I bet Soto went to Mets and Johnson went to Reds or Giants

  2. mscott4 - Jul 30, 2012 at 10:43 PM

    LaHair was just seen getting hugs and shaking hands in dugout also. Maybe shipped out too.

  3. diehardcubbiefan4life - Jul 30, 2012 at 10:48 PM

    Just a rumor, but I heard that Brett Jackson is being PACKAGED with Reed Johnson. Not sure of the team though, but Geo to the Rangers

  4. onegamedoesnotaseasonmake - Jul 30, 2012 at 11:19 PM

    who who and who?

  5. CJ - Jul 31, 2012 at 12:02 AM

    Gotta give the Braves credit. Got a younger, comparable to (if not better than) Dempster pitcher, under club control beyond 2012, and a solid platoon option in the OF all without giving up one of their more prized pitching prospects.

    They’ve had a heck of a week.

    • mrwillie - Jul 31, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      Yes, a trade that makes sense instead of some of the trades that were being floated. Hopefully Maholmm and Medlin can fill out the rotation nicely, and for more than two months. I like the Johnson deal as he can fill in for Prado at anytime and Prado in turn can pretty much field any position needed.

      All while giving up stockpiled talent, not talent that will be missed in ’13.

  6. bigdinla - Jul 31, 2012 at 3:53 AM

    This is a much better deal for the braves! Vizciano is not a starter and chapman has never come close to cracking the big league squad.

  7. daweadilx - Jul 31, 2012 at 6:04 AM

    …but we have NAP-O-LI! why the hell would we need soto???

  8. frenchysplatediscipline - Jul 31, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    Not that Malholm is a savior by any means, but I like this deal!! And Reed Johnson should be another in a long line of quality Braves bats off the bench.

    This is so much better than giving up the farm for Greinke or Dempster. And with our biggest surprise to the NL East yet to come (Medlin), I am starting to feel something I did not think was possible this year – OPTIMISM!

    And the Fish and ‘Stros for the rest of the week? Is it Christmas??

  9. materialman80 - Jul 31, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    Don’t you know they were all Happy, Happy, Happy to know they never had to put on that Cubs uniform again!

  10. foreverchipper10 - Jul 31, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Maybe I am wrong here but since Vizcaino is on the DL I thought he was unable to be traded. Am I dumb? Don’t answer that. Just the first part please.

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