From the Wire: Cubs Acquire C Victor Caratini from Braves for James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio

The Cubs made one trade prior to Thursday’s deadline. The team acquired catcher Victor Caratini from the Atlanta Braves for LHP James Russell and INF/OF Emilio Bonifacio. The Cubs also sent cash to Atlanta in the deal.

With the trade, the Cubs cleared two spots on the 40-man roster that officially stands at 38 players.

Jed Hoyer indicated about six teams were interested in Emilio Bonifacio and the front office felt that Atlanta had the best offer on the table. The Cubs had to include James Russell in the deal in order to land Victor Caratini.

The Cubs are sending cash to the Braves in the deal, roughly $1 million according to the Sun-Times. James Russell is owed $568,000 of his $1.775 million salary and Emilio Bonifacio is due $800,000 of his $2.5 million contract he signed with the Cubs in Spring Training.

James Russell was selected in the 14th round of the 2007 draft and was the longest tenured player on the Cubs roster. Russell was 0-2 in 44 appearances this season with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Russell was very effective against right handed hitters this year but struggled against lefties. Russell has one more season of control on his contract before he becomes a free agent.

Emilio Bonifacio ended up hitting .279/.318/.373 in 69 games with the Cubs with 14 doubles, three triples and two home runs. After a hot start to the season he cooled off at the plate before spending a month on the DL with an oblique strain. Bonifacio is a free agent at the end of the year.

The Braves selected catcher Victor Caratini in the second round of the 2013 draft. The switch-hitting catcher also plays third base and shortstop. The 20-year old is 6-foot, 195 pounds and played A-ball in the South Atlantic League.

Victor Caratini hit .279/.352/.406 in 87 games with 18 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 34 walks and 59 strikeouts for a .757 OPS.

Baseball America ranked Victor Caratini as the eighth best prospect in the Braves system prior to the season. Caratini is “an advanced hitter with a line-drive swing, a gap-to-gap approach from both sides of the plate and an excellent feel for the strike zone.” Caratini is considered a below average runner that does not have the quickness to play in the infield.

PrintBaseball Prospectus sees Caratini has a “possible first-division catcher” with a “strong-hit tool.” Caratini’s body-type profiles as a catcher. Baseball Prospectus described Caratini as “a compact and strong player that looks built for the backstop.” BP graded Caratini with a 6 arm (60 on 20-80 scouting scale) and gave him a 6 grade on the potential hit tool.

Victor Caratini is seen as a catcher and he has plus arm strength, according to Baseball America, with enough quickness behind the plate to handle the position long term. The reports from Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus point to the fact the Cubs will have to be patient with him on his development behind the plate due to age and experience as a catcher.

Victor Caratini was assigned to Low-A Kane County Cougars.

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  • chuckleberry74

    I like it. Catching depth is important, but he appears to be a good hitter who is versatile.

    • BigJonLilJon

      Only 20 yrs old… way to soon to tell. But we can be hopeful!

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  • Denver Mike

    I’m not saying it is a foregone conclusion, but this does clear the way for Baez to get called up.

    • Denver Mike

      Looks like Hoyer is trying to squash that idea though.

      • Craig York

        Probably Watkins.

      • Tony_H

        Not trying….doing :)

        • Denver Mike

          Haha, in order to be doing more people would have to believe him

          https://twitter.com/jon_greenberg/status/494950698526593024

          • Tony_H

            Very well could be the case. No way he would announce it right now. then again, his answer was that this trade didn’t change the timeframe for Baez. That time frame may have been August 1st!

    • Rational Logic

      arb clock. so no.

      • Tony_H

        Not sure they are going to wait for arbitration time frame next year, but maybe to gain an extra year of control. But I think Baez has a real good chance of being called up this year and if they are going to do it, it could be anytime.

        • Rational Logic

          Don’t 100% disagree with you, but what’s the point? This team is not playing for anything and why not let him continue to develop at AAA, where he’s played for a fraction of a season. Seems unwise to lose a year for 2 months. Not to mention he’s played only a handful of games at 2B. Probably makes sense to let him get accustomed to that at AAA than in Chicago.

          • Tony_H

            Baez takes longer to adjust than Bryant to the level and one could expect that it will take a little longer at the major league level. Also, Baez is very likely to sign an extension, so the time is likely to not be as big of a deal.
            Plus remember, the original plan was for this year, just more in June or early July. Plus his fraction of a season is 415 PA’s.

          • John_CC

            His adjustment period is a trend at every promotion and I think it is a very good reason to get him up this season and August would be better than September.

            If they were going to wait for the clock, then say he’s up June 1 (arbitrary date), it will take him till August to have adjusted and another season is down.

          • Eugene Debs

            I like the idea of Baez in theory, but I have to agree that it just seems best to keep him at AAA and play 2B daily.

      • Denver Mike

        They are likely going to call him up at some point this season, even if it is in September, at which time his arbitration clock will start anyways. So it’s not as simple as you make it out to be.

        • Rational Logic

          It can be simple: the cons outweigh the pros. Same logic can be used with Bryant. Not saying they won’t but it, in my opinion, makes no (business) sense.

          And, @Tony_Hall:disqus – if he signs an extension, of course the whole point is moot…

          • Tony_H

            But he won’t be offered the extension until he is already up and probably not even in his 1st year.

          • BigJonLilJon

            Agreed. But Baez signing an extension is more likely than Bryant. No Boras and he’d would probably take the guaranteed, albeit less(hopefully), cash than others for his family.

          • Tony_H

            That’s what I have been saying.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I hope it’s a fair deal, but not necessarily less. I want him to get a great deal and be very pleased…

          • Denver Mike

            It can be simple, if you want to disregard all of the other factors and just focus on the arbitration clock. But as Tony mentions there are several other factors at play, most importantly the time it takes him to adjust to a new level.

            If you want to just say “arb clock” and not put any more thought into it, you are entitled to that.

          • Tony_H

            Baez makes sense to call up, Bryant does not.

            It is not one size fits all.

        • Tom U

          It is my belief the Baez will be promoted to the Cubs this season.

          • J Daniel

            Just a matter of when?

          • Tom U

            Precisely.

  • Bredboy

    Doubront to the rotation, Jackson to the pen, and Baez up from Iowa. That’s my hope.

    • Craig York

      Not happening especially with doubront on DL.

      • Bredboy

        Yep, just saw that myself. How quickly my mind has changed!

        • Denver Mike

          Haha, I didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news because I’m right there with ya!

      • CaptainAmerica

        It’s a phony DL stint, nothing wrong with him. In order to start, they need to stretch him of for 2-3 weeks on a “rehab” assignment.

    • BillyFinT

      Nice thought. EJax as a setup man might work out as Marmol. Similar wildness and effective stuffs. Both relied on a 94+ fastball to setup that slider. Edwin might dial up like many starters converted (Tom Hunter @O’s comes to mind, throwing 98 now). Then he can get rid of that curve and cutter or whatever he’s been throwing to waste his pitch count.

      • Bredboy

        The only problem with Jackson in relief is that he would likely only pitch one inning, and he always gets rocked in his first inning. Now, if he could get that first inning worth of pitches out of the way in the bullpen…

        • BillyFinT

          Maybe when he’s pitching 98 mph plus a devastating slider that he only needs to show once to the opponent lineup, things go better in that one inning.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    I am updating this information. I ask everyone to be patient. A lot of information will be posted tonight.

  • Eric

    Now room on the 40 man roster for Bryant…

    • Tony_H

      Not a chance.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Bryant will not be called up this year, sorry.

      • Larry Schwimmer

        I agree Neil. And that’s a good thing. Baez more time for development. Why on earth would you rush him to the big leagues…especially when the best thing that could happen to the CUBS is lose 95-100 games to give us a favorable draft pick.

        • Tony_H

          He said Bryant, not Baez.

          • Larry Schwimmer

            Sorry. My comment is still valid for both. But thank you for policing the area :)

  • No Baseball In Indiana

    Nice write up. I really like this trade.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      I adding to it, more info. Little bit longer

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Added more on Caratini. There are mixed reports on his arm. One from BA as a plus to BP with enough to handle the position.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Scherzer, Price, Verlnder is going to be a killer top 3. Any one would be an ace in 75% of rotations.

    • MarkleMcD

      The acquired Price because Verlander isn’t scaring anyone anymore with his 4.79 ERA. He’s 31 and has lost both velocity on his fastball and ability to command his pitches. Pitchers usually don’t come back from that.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Next headline this offseason….Tigers deal Verlander straight up for CC Sabbaithia….

      • Larry Schwimmer

        Verlander is a great lesson in why you don’t want to “be in a rush” to sign a 29-30 year old “ace” pitcher to a $120 to $150 million dollar, 6-7 year contract. These type of pitcher signings (C.C. Sabathia, even Tanaka) have worked out poorly for the club 9 out of 10 times. Those are bad odds to gamble. If I’m THEO…I’m saying, “Let the other foolish GMs waste their money. I’m not going to do it!” I hope they try to re-sign Hammel again.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Hammel has lost his starting gig for the A’s. He’s been lit up since being traded over to the A’s, and thus they had to deal for Boston’s Lackey.

          Do you really want him back?

          • Tony_H

            Sure, on another 1 year $6M deal :)

          • Ripsnorter1

            When Bonifacio gets released by the Braves, would you resign him?

          • Tony_H

            NO!

          • Larry Schwimmer

            I totally agree with you Tony. I was thinking the same thing. I think he really liked pitching for the CUBS.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            The A’s acquired Lester from the Red Sox. Lackey went to St. Louis.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Thanks for the correction.

          • Larry Schwimmer

            You never know if Hammel lost his focus once he left Bosio. Or maybe the world of pitching in the American League is way different than National League. My point Rip:…He did a great job for the CUBS…depending on what it takes to re-sign him…Hammel should be considered.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I think Hammel was just pitching over his head…for a contract. In other words, at an unsustainable level for his skill level.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I think so too. He found himself comfortable here with a pitching coach who seems to be the “pitcher whisperer, ” for many guys.

            We are seriously luck to have Bosio IMO. And I think Hammel may be back next year on a reduced deal. He can pitch here and with Boz. He could be a 4 or 5.

            Lester/Price
            Arietta
            Hendricks
            Hammel
            Wood

        • Eugene Debs

          Technically, it would be Hoyer saying “Let the other GMs waste their money.”

          But….I agree 100% until the Hammel part.

    • Denver Mike

      Which goes to show how drastic the difference is between a successful regular season rotation, and the rotation for a World Series contender.

      • J Daniel

        EXACTLY!!! That is why I cringe when the idea of guys like Wood and others are mentioned as possible #4 or even #3 guys. At best, on a really good playoff team, they are #5. Which means they move to the pen or are not on the playoff roster.

    • John_CC

      75%? What are the 8 teams that any of those dudes wouldn’t be an ace on? Rider, I don’t know where you are coming from sometimes. If Arrieta can be an ace then every one of those three are aces, it just so happens they are on the same team.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        Sorry dude, if it’s 8 teams than that seems high. I was trying to point out a percentage that was really high. Wasn’t trying to drag Arietta in. Sorry about “where i am coming from sometimes.” I think we’re on the same page here as I said that I was meaning that yes, any one of those 3 would be the ace of most staffs. 2/3rds better? or 4/5ths? 15/16th’s?

        I don’t have time to go count teams and look at every single rotation to give you a precise calculation science guy…:)

  • Ripsnorter1

    I am glad to see both players go. Neither were everyday players.

    I don’t know if this prospect has anything to offer the Chicago Cubs–only time will tell–but right now it seems like Team Theo just cleaned off a few roster spots.

    Barney didn’t make the team for LA. He’s simply insurance if Gordon gets hurt.

    • J Daniel

      For sure, Rip. The answer is always easy … GET BETTER PLAYERS! Not an easy task but these guys can be easily replaced.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Thanks for writing back. Sorry it took so long, but we’re having a party over here, celebrating Russell’s departure from the Cubs. Man, the blown saves, the failure to get LH batters out, how he turned those fly balls into line drives! It’s really a great party! Too bad you aren’t here with us now! Excuse me…please pass the
        Horderves.

  • CaptainAmerica

    2 spots open on Cubs 40 man roster. No more platoon BS. Play Valbuena at 2nd for the rest of the year, and play Mike Olt at 3rd. Hitters need to get into a groove. In 9 games at Iowa, Olt hitting .344. Renteria, just GTFO of his way.

    Fujikawa set to come off 60 day DL.

    • Eugene Debs

      For realz.

    • Larry Schwimmer

      Thanks Captain. That’s great news about OLT. If the coaches at Iowa can truly say that he’s fixed his swing then I’m with you: bring him up to the majors. If not — he should spend the rest of the year there and making sure he can hit and not strike out so much.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      That’s a good point. Maybe Olt comes back up. He did get back in a groove. But another week or two would probably be prudent.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Nobody wanted Villanueva

    • BosephHeyden

      There’s always the waiver deadline. I’d expect Villanueva, Wright, and at least one of Sweeny, Ruggiano, Coghlan, and Schierholtz to be moved by the end of August. None of those guys are really critical pieces that you need to rush to get, and since all of them will likely see more playing time this month, they’ll be able to show if they can hold up or heat up during the stretch for a contender.

      • BigJonLilJon

        don’t look now but Coghlan Sneeking up. Up to 282. Could be a piece

      • Jeffrey Rogers

        Every good team has solid, experienced guys on the bench. Ruggiano and Coghlan are under contract for next year. There is no need to trade them just to make a trade.

        The last GOOD Cubs team won 97 games with guys like Reed Johnson, Daryl Ward, Mike Haffpauir, and Matt Murton.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          I agree. I think Coghlan could be very beneficial to us next season. Ruggiano too.

          Cool though that three guys now have respectable batting averages! And Valbuena has been heating up. Just need Castro to get back to a groove.

          Coghlan, Ruggiano and Valbuena will all 3 be very helpful next season. And we all know that for 2 months Valbuena can play like an all-star so he might as well do that for us.

        • jtrain23

          Yeah, we have a roster full of Daryl Ward’s, Reed Johnson’s, and Matt Murton’s. I am not discounting those players, because you have to have guys like that to win. Ruggiano, Coghlan, Valbuena, Sweeney, etc. would look great as utility guys on a good team. We just have to develop/sign the rest of the stars to be that good team.

          Until guys like this are simply role players, we will still lose 90-100 games/year. I think we are getting there with Rizzo and Castro. We just have to hope Bryant, Baez, Russell, etc. can do the rest.

          • Jeffrey Rogers

            They will be bench players next year when Solar, Baez, Bryant, Castro, Rizzo and Alcantera are 2/3rds of the line up. If you dump those guys you just have to replace them with other role players. I’m not against trading them but not just for the sake of making a trade. You have to improve the roster with the trade or it’s just worthless effort.

          • jtrain23

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they can’t be useful to this team. I really like these players, especially Valbuena. I’m just saying that the odds of our starting lineup developing around these guys is slim. It is usually visa versa.

    • Ripsnorter1

      My wife has cried for two days over the fact that Team Theo–the incredible Team Theo!–could not deal Carlos VIllanueva away.

      And to think that some folks hold them in high esteem as being able to do the impossible!

  • J Daniel

    What is also missing from the discussion is the $368,000 savings they get in salary relief. All of that cash has hopefully been banked for a SMART spending spree this winter.

    • calicub

      True, but $400k is a drop in the bucket for the contracts needed to sign the Lester’s and Scherzer’s of the world.

      • J Daniel

        They already have that money as evidenced by the bid for Tankanka. This pocket change will help buy a solid vet that can impact but is not a star. Plus Russell, Bonaficio, Barney, … all easily replaceable at cheaper salaries which is savings as well. All adds up.

    • Tony_H

      Pocket change in MLB.

      • J Daniel

        No question it is pocket change … but add it with all of the other pocket change saved and it adds up. I think the savings on Smarj/Hammel was $5m? Plus a little saved with Barney, plus, if memory serves correctly, $5m from Sori’s deal last year, plus $$$ set aside from no Tananka, plus all of the other little moves that have saved pocket change.

  • J Daniel

    At this point Baez should be up when he is ready to be up but clock should still be a consideration.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    I like this trade…especially if he stays a C. Volume isn’t needed on the farm right now, expect maybe at P position and C. You weren’t going to get a lot straight up for Russell or Boni, so packaging them to get better quality, especially a C, makes a ton of sense.

    • Ripsnorter1

      I am completely bumfoozled that Atlanta would want either one of them. And to deal them both off in a package deal…Wow!

      Of course I do not think the Cubs got anything back in return. And we paid their full contracts, I am sure. But it looks better than simply outright releasing them.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        The Cubs sent roughly $1 million of the $1.4 million left owed to the two players. Pretty close, but not the entire contracts to both players. The money saved on this trade and the one with the Dodgers will go towards next years payroll.

        • J Daniel

          As was said to me, pocket change. But as I posted all of the pocket change they have saved can cover one legit vet that is not a star but can help impact the club.

      • Bredstik

        Not sure how you can say the Cubs didn’t get anything back in return. Caratini was a second round draft pick just last year, and made the South Atlantic League All Star team.

        Caratini was named the Braves’ No. 8 prospect by Baseball America coming into the season and was also named the eight-best prospect traded at the deadline by BA (the Cubs notched the Nos. 1 and 2 prospects in Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, too).

        http://www.csnchicago.com/cubs/what-are-cubs-getting-catcher-victor-caratini

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