Lefty reliever George Sherrill is “closing in on a deal” with the Braves, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
With a 6.69 ERA this season Sherrill earned his non-tender from the Dodgers, but he was an All-Star in 2008, had a 1.70 ERA in 2009, and still looks plenty capable of being a good left-handed specialist in 2011.
Right-handed batters crushed Sherrill this year, but he held lefties to .192/.286/.288. And that’s actually worse than his ridiculously great career mark of .167/.235/.265 versus lefties.
As long as the Braves keep his matchups against righties to a minimum, Sherrill should be a nice low-cost pickup.
UPDATE: Sherrill’s deal is for $1.2 million, with another $200,000 in possible incentives.
No doubt looking to shed some salary after signing Adam Dunn and re-signing A.J. Pierzynski yesterday, the White Sox have traded veteran reliever Scott Linebrink to the Braves for mid-level pitching prospect Kyle Cofield.
Chicago will reportedly send some cash to Atlanta to cover part of the one season and $5.5 million left on Linebrink’s four-year, $19 million deal and he’ll slot into the Braves’ bullpen as a setup man.
He posted a strong 147/48 K/BB ratio in three seasons in Chicago, including a 52/17 mark in 57 innings this year, but Linebrink struggled to keep the ball in the ballpark while serving up 28 homers in 160 innings and had ERAs of 4.40, 4.66, and 3.69.
Moving from the AL to the NL and from Chicago’s power-boosting ballpark to Atlanta’s pitcher-friendly home will definitely help hide Linebrink’s long-ball weaknesses, and he should be a solid (if overpaid) seventh-inning setup man.
In exchange for Linebrink the White Sox get some payroll flexibility and minor leaguer Kyle Cofield, a 2005 eighth-round pick whom Baseball America ranked as the 24th-best prospect in the Braves’ farm system. A ground-ball pitcher with poor strikeout and K/BB numbers, he currently projects as a potential middle reliever down the road.
Matt Diaz has been added to the non-tender pile, as the Braves cut the 33-year-old outfielder loose after five seasons in Atlanta.
Diaz has alternated good years and bad years for the Braves, and when his batting average slumps like it did this season his modest pop, swing-at-everything approach, and poor defense make him a liability.
However, he’s a career .301 hitter with an .806 OPS and if spotted primarily against left-handed pitching as a platoon corner outfielder he would be a very nice pickup for quite a few teams.
Diaz has hit .335 with a .907 OPS versus lefties, compared to .269 with a .710 OPS versus righties, so if paired with a left-handed-hitting platoon-mate and plugged into the lineup against southpaws he can provide about one-third of an All-Star caliber performance.
Plus, he also brings some value to the table as a crazy fan wrangler.