Jul 27, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Emilio Bonifacio (64) hits against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Trade: Atlanta Braves Acquire Russell, Bonifacio from Cubs

In what was very literally a last-minute-before-the-trade-deadline deal, the Atlanta Braves have completed a trade with the Chicago Cubs that sends OF/2B Emilio Bonifacio and LH Reliever James Russell to the Braves in exchange for Rome Braves (SALLY League) Catcher Victor Caratini.

This single trade more-or-less covers the biggest stated needs of the major league club:  a veteran lefty relief specialist and a better bench presence.  The Cubs have also supplied an unspecified amount of cash to the Braves, likely enough to cover the remaining salaries of both players for the remainder of the year.


James Russell

Confirmation that yes – James Russell is indeed left-handed. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Russell was undoubtedly not the first choice for Atlanta for this role, but the Baltimore Orioles gave up their 3rd-ranked prospect to gain the prize today:  Boston’s Andrew Miller.  That was clearly a price level that Frank Wren was unwilling to pay for a “rental” player that would only be guaranteed for the remaining 2 months of the regular season.

Russell brings a 3.51 ERA with 7 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9.  He keeps the ball in the park – having a .81 HR/9 rate and an extraordinarily low .219 BABIP over 44 games/33 innings.  Oddly, though touted as a LOOGY (Left-handed One Out Guy), lefty hitters have oddly hit him very hard this year:  .281 average against vs. .098 for RHH.  In 2013, those numbers were reversed (the way it ought to be):  .181 vs. LHH, .317 vs. RHH.

Russell is under team control through 2015.


Emilio Bonifacio

Bonifacio has bounced around lately:  the Marlins, Blue Jays, Cubs, and now Atlanta in the past 3 seasons.  He’s still just 29.  Boni has hit .279 this year in somewhat limited action (69 games, 298 plate appearance).  He’s also stolen 14 bases, which is roughly even with his career norms.  His OBP is .318 and he’s even managed to put 2 balls out of the park.  He’ll likely spell any of the outfielders from time to time, plus he has been known to play any infield position as well.

Fredi Gonzalez was the manager of the (then) Florida Marlins at the time Bonifacio first appeared there, so they are clearly familiar with one another.


Victor Caratini

Victor Caratini was selected by Atlanta in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft out of Miami-Dade.  He’s nearly 21 years old and there was some question about which position he would play when drafted:  third base or catcher.  This year he has played catcher nearly full time, marking a .279 average with a .352 OBP and 5 home runs in 87 games.  His OPS rating is a respectable .757.  In terms of prospect rankings, he places roughly 10th (+/-) in the Braves’ farm system.


We are awaiting word on the roster moves required to place the new arrivals onto the 25-man/active list.  That will be done tomorrow as both will report to the Braves in San Diego – not tonight as they wrap up the series with the Dodgers.

There is news about the 40-mqan roster and how these new acquisitions will be accommodated:



…And thus is the cycle of life:  one added, one subtracted.  But note that this news means that almost certainly Jordan Schafer remains a Brave for now.


Tags: Atlanta Braves Emilio Bonifacio James Russell Trade

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