Chipper Jones has been cleared to swing a bat

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Chipper Jones — who I would have bet a good deal had his career ended with that torn ACL last summer — appears to be healing just fine: he’s been cleared to swing a bat and will likely be ready to go full speed once spring training begins.

We’re certainly in the twilight of the Chipper Jones era — and the days in which the Braves depended upon Jones to carry significant weight in the offense is over — but his health is still important to the Braves for strategic purposes. If he can man third, the Uggla-at-second, Prado-in-left scenario works out well enough.  If Jones can’t make it, Prado will have to play third and the Braves will find themselves in need of a left fielder. Again.

And if he does play, I wonder if Fredi Gonzalez will have the guts to move him to second in the order to take advantage of his still extant on-base skills and to place less pressure on him to hit for power.

Astros acquire Aledmys Díaz from Blue Jays

Aledmys Diaz
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The Astros have acquired shortstop Aledmys Díaz from the Blue Jays in exchange for minor league right-hander Trent Thornton, the teams announced Saturday.

Díaz, 28, was originally acquired by the Blue Jays last winter in a swap for minor leaguer J.B. Woodman. He spent the entirety of his 2018 campaign in Toronto, where he slashed .263/.303/.453 with a .756 OPS and career-best 18 home runs through 452 plate appearances. While Díaz spent the bulk of his year filling in for an injured Troy Tulowitzki at short, he has experience at second and third base and may prove useful to the Astros as an extra outfield option, too.

Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Díaz will serve as protection if the Astros lose shortstop/utility player Marwin González to free agency this winter. González did not receive a qualifying offer from the club this month and has reportedly drawn interest from 29 of 30 clubs in the league.

Thornton, 25, was selected by the Astros during the fifth round of the 2015 draft. The right-hander was promoted to Triple-A Fresno in 2017 and has been up-and-down since then, though 2018 saw some modest improvements across the board as he turned in a 9-8 record through 22 starts with a 4.42 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 through 124 1/3 innings. He was one of several minor league players the Astros would have needed to protect in advance of the Rule 5 Draft on Tuesday.