Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 7/30/12

The Chicago Cubs were busy on Monday night, making a pair of trades...but neither involving Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza. The team traded catcher Geovany Soto to the Texas Rangers, and outfielder Reed Johnson and starter Paul Maholm to the Braves. 

Soto's acquisition helps the Rangers in both the short term and the long term. Texas has NOT gotten good production behind the plate this year, totalling just a .726 OPS at the position this year as Mike Napoli has had a down year in comparison to last year, split time with Yorvit Torreabla, who isn't a very good hitter at all. Soto might not be much of an improvement though, as he has just a .623 OPS this year in 51 games. Soto has a higher ceiling than Torreabla however, as his 17 homers in each of 2010 and 2011 indicates, as well as his .890 OPS in 2010 and .721 OPS in 2011. Heading to Chicago is Jacob Brigham, not even ranked about the Rangers' top 30 prospects coming into the year. The 24-year old sixth round pick from the 2006 draft has a 4.28 ERA in 121 innings for AA Frisco, striking out 116 and walking 49, but allowing 19 homers, which is way too many.

The duo of Johnson and Maholm are heading to Atlanta, where the Braves were searching for both a bench bat and a starting pitcher. They got both in the same deal, and while Johnson is an ideal fit for the team, Maholm may not be exactly what they were looking for. Johnson has a .799 OPS coming off the bench for the Cubs, and he'll be a huge boon for a Braves team that has functioned with the ineffective Matt Diaz and the slap-hitting Jose Constanza as fourth outfielders this year. Diaz has only a .613 OPS this season, and Constanza is at just .472. As for Maholm, he's an always solid back-end of the rotation guy, and I'm not necessarily sure he fits in with the Braves. The 30-year old doesn't strike many batters out, and posseses an above average walk rate while not throwing hard at all. He has a 1.23 ERA in 36 2/3 July innings, and has struck out 26 while walking eight. He's a definite upgrade over Jair Jurrens, though.

The prospects heading back for Johnson and Maholm are currently unknown, but it's been confirmed that two minor league pitchers are the return, and neither are of the Teheran/Delgado/Spruill/Minor/Gilmartin class, which is a relief for Braves fans.

Photo courtesy of Daylife.com


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