Royals acquire Justin Maxwell from Astros

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FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Royals have picked up outfielder Justin Maxwell from the Astros. The Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton confirmed the deal, adding that the Astros are getting right-hander Kyle Smith in return.

Maxwell gives the Royals another outfield option with David Lough having cooled off of late. With Lorenzo Cain primarily in center and Alex Gordon in left, Lough, Maxwell and Jarrod Dyson will typically battle for one spot in the lineup. Maxwell will probably play mostly against lefties at the onset.

Maxwell, 29, has hit .241/.311/.387 with two homers in 137 at-bats this season. Last year, he hit .229/.304/.460 with 18 homers in 315 at-bats for the Astros. He’s struggled with injuries his entire career, which has made it difficult for him to establish himself.

The Astros have taken a liking to Brandon Barnes in the outfield, which made Maxwell expendable. They also have top prospect George Springer likely to come up and play center field later this season.

Smith, a 2011 fourth-round pick, was 5-4 with a 2.85 ERA and a 96/29 K/BB ratio in 104 1/3 innings for high-A Wilmington this year. The 20-year-old was rated the Royals’ No. 12 prospect by Baseball America before the start of the season, and he’d probably moved up a few spots since.

Braves trade David Hernandez to the Angels

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The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels have completed a minor trade: Atlanta is sending righty reliever David Hernandez to the Angels in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

Hernandez hasn’t pitched in the big leagues this year. He’s pitched in seven games at Triple-A, allowing one earned run in eight innings of work. In seven years of big league work he’s got an ERA of 4.10 in 379 games. Last year he put up a 3.84 ERA in 70 games for the Phillies.

I’m assuming the PTBNL is not Mike Trout.

The Nats are sniffing around for relief pitching help

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The Nationals began the year with Blake Treinen as their closer. That didn’t last long, and now Koda Glover seems to be Dusty Baker’s man in the ninth inning. He earned a save for the second consecutive game yesterday. Glover has been pretty darn good in the early going, posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out six batters and walking only one in seven and two-thirds. That obviously a small sample size, and anything can happen. If it does, Baker has Shawn Kelley as an option.

Not many household names there, which is probably why the Nationals are reported to be interested in the White Sox’ David Robertson and Alex Colome of the Rays. That report comes from Jim Bowden of ESPN, who also notes that the A’s have a number of guys with closing experience on staff and are likely to be sellers too. The David Robertson thing may have more legs, though, given that Mike Rizzo and Rick Hahn pulled off a pretty major trade in the offseason. If you know a guy well, you call that guy first, right?

As far as problems go this isn’t a huge one. The Nats sit at 13-5 and, as expected by most prognosticators, are in first place in the National League East. The Cubs had some questions in the pen this time last year too. They had the luxury of trying to figure it out before making a massive trade for a closer. The Nats do too, and likely will. But expect them to be a part of any trade rumor conversation for the next couple of months.