Mark Bowman, of MLB.com, reports the Atlanta Braves have acquired starting pitcher Javier Vazquez and relief pitcher Boone Logan from the Chicago White Sox. Vazquez will travel to Atlanta Wednesday, Dec. 3, for a physical.
The Braves have given the White Sox a list of five players from which Chicago can choose four. The White Sox are believed to have the most interest in Braves shortstop Brent Lillibridge and prospect catcher Tyler Flowers. The Braves will also provide two more unidentified prospects, but starting pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes will not be included in the deal.
Vazquez returns to the National League after three tumultuous seasons with the Pale Hose. Despite reaching 200 strikeouts for the second straight year, his other fantasy peripherals didn't impress: a 4.67 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP and a .263 batting average against. He also walked 61 batters and allowed 25 home runs in 208 1/3 innings. However, despite his high walk count, he boasts a solid career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.33-to-1.
The 32-year-old righty earns a bump in his fantasy value for 2009 as his new digs provide a good chance for a rebound season. He seemed relatively comfortable in 11 career starts at Atlanta's traditionally pitcher-friendly Turner Field, going 5-4 with a 3.45 ERA and 60 K's in 70 1/3 innings.
The absence of the designated hitter in the Senior Circuit should also give him a slight edge. The more favorable ambience could allow Vazquez to avoid the plateau of 25 homers allowed that he has reached in six of his last seven campaigns. Remember, though, that Vazquez won't have the potent Sox bats backing him, and the Braves are in a moderate rebuilding mode.
Still, Vazquez offers above-average strikeout potential to fantasy owners and should remain a mid-round selection in mixed universes as a No. 3 fantasy starter - or a low-end No. 2, if desperate. Draft skeptics might let him slide in serpentine formats or allow him to be bought on the cheap in auction setups, but NL-only players will probably have to pay a bit more to obtain him given his upside and the restricted player universe.
The White Sox's list of potential acquisitions includes some intriguing prospects. Lillibridge - more of a post-hype player at the moment - would contribute to a White Sox infield that's undergoing a makeover. Infielder Alexei Ramirez is likely to move to shortstop, while Chris Getz and Jayson Nix would provide competition for him were he to shift to second base.
Lillibridge hit .200 in just 80 at-bats with the Bravos last year. He swiped just two bases with the Braves but has stolen 20 or more at four of his previous five minor league stops. Keep an eye on him if he's included in the deal as he's a great sleeper for stolen bases if he earns playing time.
Flowers led the Arizona Fall League with 12 home runs this year and hit 17 homers at high Single-A Myrtle Beach last season. He's likely still a few seasons away from making an impact. Those in full-retention keeper leagues should already own the potentially dangerous 22-year-old.
Logan struggled in middle relief duty for the White Sox last year, posting a 5.95 ERA in 42 1/3 innings, though he did fan 42 batters. Still, he shouldn't be a fantasy target in any format.
About Tim Heaney
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