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Cubs trade Arodys Vizcaino for Braves' 2B Tommy La Stella

The Cubs added to their deep pool of middle infielders Sunday when they acquired Atlanta Braves second baseman Tommy La Stella for hard-throwing reliever Arodys Vizcaino.

The Cubs also traded their Nos. 2, 3 and 4 international signing-bonus slots for the Braves’ No. 4.

Despite widespread speculation on social media that the trade portends a move of one of their other touted middle infielders, the Cubs said it was made independent of other considerations.

“We did this deal because we like the player,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “We tried to acquire him for a number of years. This deal isn’t a precursor to another imminent move.”

There’s no denying that the Cubs improved their flexibility when considering a trade from their middle-infield depth. But Hoyer said La Stella’s position was less of a factor than his ability throughout his career to get on base and avoid strikeouts, relative rarities among current Cubs.

“We’ve made no secret about our desire to get on base more, put the ball in play more and be more left-handed, and he fits all those criteria,” Hoyer said. “Our biggest focus is on the offensive profile. Obviously, he can play second base. We may move him around a little bit.”

The options appear to be limited. La Stella, who turns 26 in January, has played exclusively at second in 288 minor-league games and 93 big-league games.

La Stella, who debuted in May, hit .322 with a .407 on-base percentage and .881 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in the minors. He hit .251 with a .328 OBP and 18 extra-base hits with the Braves.

Vizcaino was recovering from Tommy John surgery when he was acquired from the Braves in the Paul Maholm trade-deadline deal in 2012.

Since then, he had a setback with his elbow that required a less extensive surgery. After a lengthy minor-league rehab, he made his Cubs debut Sept. 6. Vizcaino pitched just once in the next week and made only five appearances down the stretch.

The Braves net an additional $832,000 in international signing space with the bonus-slot swap.

The Cubs’ need for signing space during the 2014-15 period is muted by penalties for previous overspending and a limit of $250,000 per free agent.


Twitter: @GDubCub