Another at-the-deadline trade has come in: the Braves have acquired reliever James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio from the Cubs for minor league catcher Minor league catcher Victor Caratini.
Russell is the lefty in the pen the Braves had been rumored to be looking for. Overall he’s 0-2 with a 3.51 ERA and 26 strikeouts against 16 walks in 44 innings this year. In 2014 lefties have actually tattooed him compared to righties, which he has handled quite well, though that’s obviously on a small sample. For his career his splits are what you would expect — better against lefties than righties — but not such a pronounced split that he’s DEATH TO ALL LEFTIES or anything.
Bonifacio has been a super sub for ages. He can play three infield positions and has covered center field. His bat is no great shakes, but he has his moments. He’s good injury protection and a nice guy to have on the bench.
Caratini is the Braves’ #6 overall prospect. He’s 20, is playing at Rome in the Sally League, but he’s essentially blocked by Christian Bethancourt and Evan Gattis (and others) in the system. He could be a good one one day, however. In 611 minor league plate appearances he has a .377 OBP.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.