The Atlanta Braves have traded catcher Johnny Estrada to the Arizona Diamondbacks for relievers Lance Cormier and Oscar Villarreal.
Estrada hit .261 last season with 4 home runs and 39 RBI in 357 at bats. His season was harmed in early June when he was run over by Darin Erstad in a nasty home plate collission. Estrada missed a great deal of time for the rest of the year battling the back injury suffered in the collision.
In his absence, Brian McCann was brought up from AA Mississippi and took over as the starting catcher. McCann hit .278 in 180 at bats with 5 home runs and 23 RBI, along with two home runs in the National League Division Series.
McCann convinced the Braves he was ready to replace Estrada as the full-time catcher, making the switch-hitter expendable.
Cormier just finished his second season with the Diamondbacks in their bullpen. He went 7-3 with a 5.11 ERA in 67 games. The right-hander had 13 holds, allowed 86 hits in 79.1 innings pitched, 43 walks, and 63 strikeouts. Cormier is a former University of Alabama pitcher that is 26 years old. He is from Lafayette, Louisianna.
Villarreal is a 24-year-old right-hander from Mexico that has missed most of the last two seasons with arm injuries. He appeared in only 11 games in 2005, going 2-0 with a 5.27 ERA in 13.2 innings. His best season was 2003, when he appeared in 86 games as a rookie, posting a 2.57 ERA.
Cormier and Villarreal will go to spring training and compete for openings in the Atlanta bullpen. The Braves still hope to add a closer to replace Kyle Farnsworth.
The Braves remain in negotiations with the Boston Red Sox concerning shortstop Edgar Renteria. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays dropped out of the discussions for a three-team deal when they demanded more from the Braves than Andy Marte. The Red Sox also balked at pay a large portion of Renteria's salary.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. You can email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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