Braves acquire Vazquez from White Sox
Chicago right-hander heading to Atlanta in six-player swap
ATLANTA -- Javier Vazquez is coming to Atlanta, and as long as everything goes well with his physical, he'll serve as the first piece to Braves general manager Frank Wren's rotation-reconstruction process.According to a source with knowledge of the negotiations, the Braves and White Sox have agreed to terms on a six-player trade that will bring right-hander Vazquez and left-handed reliever Boone Logan to Atlanta. Vazquez will arrive in Atlanta early on Wednesday afternoon to undergo a physical. The deal could be formally announced by both teams later that day or on Thursday. From a five-player list provided by the Braves, the White Sox have chosen four players.
The two most recognizable prospects heading to Chicago are shortstop Brent Lillibridge and Minor League catcher Tyler Flowers, who greatly improved his stock while hitting .387 with 12 homers in 20 Arizona Fall League games this year.
A Major League source has also confirmed that the White Sox have also chosen Minor League third baseman Jon Gilmore and Minor League left-handed pitcher Santos Rodriguez.
While Vazquez doesn't provide the Braves the top-caliber starting pitcher they've been seeking, he does provide a solid veteran presence that their rotation currently lacks. The 32-year-old right-hander has won at least 10 games and completed at least 198 innings during each of the past nine seasons."He's a real quality pitcher, and he's always wanted to pitch for the Braves," a Major League source said in reference to Vazquez, who went 12-16 with a 4.67 ERA in 33 starts for the White Sox this past season. Multiple sources have indicated a move back to the National League could certainly benefit Vazquez, who went 50-45 with a 3.65 ERA in 133 starts for the Expos from 2000-03. His only experience in the Senior Circuit since then came in 2005, when he went 11-15 with a 4.42 ERA for the Diamondbacks. Since leaving the Expos to join the Yankees in 2004, Vazquez has gone 63-61 with a 4.50 ERA. He earned his only career All-Star selection in 2004, and his finest season came in 2007, when he went 15-8 with a 3.74 ERA.
Vazquez will make $11.75 million in each of the next two seasons and then be eligible for free agency.With Vazquez in place, the Braves will continue their search for an ace to place at the top of their rotation. They remain confident that they will at least be very competitive in the bidding for free-agent right-hander A.J. Burnett. While Vazquez is the centerpiece of this trade, the Braves are also excited about Logan's potential. The 24-year-old left-handed reliever, who has already logged 144 career appearances, posted a 5.95 ERA in 55 inconsistent appearances this past season. In his first 36 appearances this season, Logan posted a 1.95 ERA and limited opponents to a .223 batting average. But after posting a 19.13 ERA and allowing opponents to hit .500 in his next 12 appearances, he found himself in manager Ozzie Guillen's doghouse and on the way to the Minors. Things didn't improve for Logan when he returned to the Majors in September. During his seven appearances during the regular season's final month, he posted an 18.00 ERA and allowed opponents to produce a .583 on-base percentage. The White Sox left him off their postseason roster. Even with the acquisition of Logan, the Braves will still attempt to re-sign left-hander Will Ohman. Based on the offer he received two weeks ago, Ohman felt he was still wanted in Atlanta. Lillibridge entered this past season as one of the top prospects in Atlanta's system. But his stock dropped while he hit just .220 with a .294 on-base percentage in 90 games with Triple-A Richmond. He has been successful in 127 of his 162 stolen base attempts at the Minor League level. Flowers caught Braves manager Bobby Cox's attention during Spring Training and certainly wowed some scouts with the power he showed in the AFL this year. While playing for Class A Myrtle Beach this past season, Flowers hit .288 with 17 homers and a .498 slugging percentage. Although he has the offensive tools to succeed, scouts have said that he needs to make great strides from a defensive standpoint to be serviceable as a catcher at the Major League level.
Gilmore, a 20-year-old third baseman, hit .186 in 27 games with Class A Rome this past season. While with Rookie-level Danville in 2007, he hit .337 with four homers and a .473 slugging percentage.
Rodriguez, a 20-year-old left-handed pitcher, went 1-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 14 relief appearances for the Gulf Coast League Braves this year. In 29 innings, he recorded 45 strikeouts and issued 13 walks.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.