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>>Cubs Add RP Smith

 

The Cubs have already added lefties Mike Montgomery and Aroldis Chapman to their bullpen this trading season, and now they've made it a third. It's now Joe Smith, with the Angels getting a minor-league pitcher in return, the Cubs have announced.

 

Smith is a low-velocity sidewinder, so he'll make for an interesting change of pace and style from the Cubs' arsenal of flame-throwers at the back-end like Chapman, Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop. Smith so far this season has a 3.82 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 25 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings.

 

From 2011-14, he had a 2.25 ERA, but he's regressed a bit the past two seasons.

 

In return, the Cubs send 20-year-old right-hander Jesus Castillo to the Angels. Castillo is 2-3 with a 3.27 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 38 strikeouts in 33 innings in Low-A this season. So there's some upside there, but it won't be untapped for a few years.

 

>>Rangers Acquire Coveted C Lucroy

 

According to Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network, the Rangers and Brewers are finalizing a trade to send catcher Jonathan Lucroy to Texas. Past that, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress is also headed to the Rangers.

 

Headed back to the Brewers are top prospects Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz, reports TR Sullivan of MLB.com.

 

Lucroy, who vetoed a deal to the Indians on Sunday morning, is hitting .299/.359/.482 with 17 doubles, 13 homers and 50 RBI this season.

 

Brinson is a 22-year-old center fielder who Baseball America ranked as the 15th best prospect in baseball before the season started. In 77 games for Double-A Frisco, he's hitting just .237/.280/.431 with 14 doubles, six triples, 11 homers and 11 steals. Last season, though -- between three different levels, mostly Class A-Advanced -- he hit .332/.403/.601 with 31 doubles, eight triples, 20 homers and 18 steals.

 

As for the aforementioned prospect rankings, Ortiz was 64th. He's a right-handed pitcher and in 16 appearances between Class A-Advanced and Double-A, he has a 3.48 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 62 strikeouts against only 13 walks in 67 1/3 innings.

 

>>Rangers Acquire Beltran from Yankees

 

The Yankees continue their rebuild while the Rangers grab one of the best available bats in front of the MLB trade deadline, as Carlos Beltran is headed to the Rangers, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

 

Passan further reports that pitcher Dillon Tate and more (reports indicate two more minor leaguers) would be going back to the Yankees. Tate was the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Beltran is 39 years old, but he's hitting like he's in his prime this season. Through 99 games, he is hitting .304/.344/.546 with 21 doubles, 22 homers and 64 RBI. He doesn't run anymore and might be better suited to DH than play in the outfield -- and the Rangers can accommodate this -- but this is a jolt of power to the middle of the order.

 

As for Tate, he is very highly touted. He headed into the season ranked as the 36th best prospect in baseball by MLB.com. He was as dominant as anyone in college for UCSB before being selected fourth behind Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman and Brendan Rodgers in the 2015 draft.

This season, though, has been bad. In 17 outings in Class A, Tate has a 5.40 ERA, 1.62 WHIP and only 55 strikeouts in 65 innings. He's being knocked around, allowing 78 hits in those 65 innings.

 

>>Pirates Move Liriano

 

For the second time in the past few days, the Pirates made a surprise trade, sending left-hander Francisco Liriano and two prospects to the Blue Jays in exchange for righty Drew Hutchison.

 

Liriano's banishment from Pittsburgh comes after a messy 21-start stretch in which all of his rate statistics had gone the wrong way compared to the rest of his Pittsburgh tenure. He'd allowed more hits, more walks, and more home runs per nine, and had notched fewer strikeouts per nine than in all but one of his previous seasons while wearing the black and gold. The Blue Jays, then, are acquiring a challenge as much as anything -- getting Liriano back to good. If they can, his $13 million salary for 2017 could look like a bargain.

 

On the Pirates' side, they do get something in return beyond budget space, in the person of Hutchison. It wasn't long ago Hutchison looked like he could become a staple of the Jays' rotation. He's since struggled to find consistent success in the majors, however, and he'd spent most of the 2016 season in the minors. If Ray Searage, Pittsburgh's revered pitching coach, can help Hutchison regain his fastball-slider magic of old, then the Pirates could well walk away with a younger, more affordable starter on their hands.

 

>>Mets, Reds Finalize Bruce Deal

 

With the Mets' offense in a funk, they went looking for some power from outside the organization. It appears they have landed their man in right fielder Jay Bruce from the Reds. Initial reports had the Mets sending the Reds Brandon Nimmo and two others, but that deal fell through due to medical concerns with one of the Mets' lower-level prospects. The two sides continued to work and ended up settling on a deal that sends Dilson Herrera and Max Wotell.

 

Bruce can be a rental or be with the Mets through next season. It'll be their choice, as he has a $13 million team option for 2017.

 

Bruce, 29, is hitting .265/.316/.559 (128 OPS+) with 22 doubles, six triples, 25 homers and an NL-best 80 RBI so far this season. He made his third All-Star team after two pretty terrible years

The Mets have been utterly dreadful this season with runners in scoring position, hitting .206/.282/.324.

 

Bruce so far this season is hitting .360/.406/.719 with runners in scoring position. This isn't surprising, given his RBI total while playing for a bad team.

 

>>Dodgers Acquire Reddick, Hill From A's, Puig To Be Demoted

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired a pair of rentals from the Oakland Athletics. It's outfielder Josh Reddick and starting pitcher Rich Hill. The teams announced the deal on Monday.

Going to the A's are Frankie Montas, Grant Holmes and Jharel Cotton.

 

Hill is a 36-year-old lefty who hadn't made a start at the big-league level since 2009 until the Red Sox gave him four starts last September. He was outstanding and that has continued into this season. Through 14 starts, he's 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA (181 ERA+), 1.09 WHIP and 90 strikeouts in 76 innings. He's been troubled by blisters the past several weeks, but it's always possible the A's were being overly cautious with him so it didn't get worse and ruin his trade value.

 

Despite plenty of rumors, the Dodgers did not trade outfielder Yasiel Puig prior to Monday's non-waiver trade deadline. Puig remains with the organization, though he is not actually with the Dodgers right now.


According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Puig "stormed off" after being informed he will be either traded or demoted to the minors Monday. He did not accompany the team on their flight to Denver for their upcoming series with the Rockies.

 

Tim Brown of Yahoo reports though Puig was instructed not to report to the stadium or the plane today as he was told he would be traded or demoted.

 

The Dodgers acquired outfielder Josh Reddick in a trade with the Athletics earlier month. Reddick joins Puig, Joc Pederson,Scott Van Slyke, and Andrew Toles as outfielders on Los Angeles' active 25-man roster. Howie Kendrick and Enrique Hernandez has outfield experience too.

 

Of course, trading or demoting Puig would not even be considered if his performance and durability had not taken such a big step back. He's hitting only .260/.320/.386 (93 OPS+) this season and has been battling nagging hamstring problems since last year.

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