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The Atlanta Braves, second perhaps only to the Tigers, have been rather loudly in the market for a bullpen arm, preferably a lefty, after a rash of injuries hit the pen. Now they’ve picked up their lefty: today, the Braves traded pitcher Cory Rasmus to the Angels for Scott Downs.
Downs, 37, is in the final year of a relatively big money deal, which pays him $5 million this year. His perhiperals are a bit meh this year (relatively speaking), but he does have an ERA under two. He’s a lefty who can get lefties out, and those guys have value.
Rasmus, 25, is the younger brother of Colby, and has spent most of the year as a AAA closer. He’s the kind of arm you’d expect to see in a deal like this: tons of strikeouts, tons of walks. It looks like he’s got some kind of big league future, but it’s questionable whether the walks will inhibit his ability to be more than a middle reliever, or his ability to stick in the big leagues.
The Braves had previously been connected to James Russell (and here, too), so this likely takes them out of that market. Of course, we still don’t know how interested the Cubs are in moving Russell anyway.
Although Downs is a lefty, and so is Russell, given their ages, abilities, and contract situations, I don’t really see them as all that correlative in terms of this having any impact on the Russell price. Instead, it could set an interesting price for Kevin Gregg (older like Downs, similar peripherals, and a much cheaper contract which probably equalizes their value (in other words, all money equal, Downs is more valuable)). Getting a guy like Rasmus – a possible near-term reliever with a big arm – would be a nice return for Gregg at this point. That’s just an example of the relative value, of course.
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