While other National League contenders beefed up for the playoffs, the Braves seemed to keep missing out on players who could’ve boosted their hopes.
Turns out, they landed the guy they wanted all along.
Atlanta acquired speedy outfielder Michael Bourn from the Astros yesterday in a five-player deal, giving the Braves their first true leadoff hitter in at least six years.
The Astros received outfielder Jordan Schafer and three minor league pitchers, but the Braves didn’t give up any of their top pitching prospects. Houston also sent an undisclosed amount of cash to Atlanta to cover part of Bourn’s salary. He is making $4.4 million this season. He’s not eligible for free agency until after next season.
Bourn is hitting .303 and leads the majors with 39 stolen bases. He goes from the last-place Astros to a playoff-contending team that has one of baseball’s best pitching staffs, but was downright desperate for offensive help because of various ailments and lackluster performances.
“We haven’t had that kind of threat in the top of our lineup in a long time,’’ said third baseman Chipper Jones.
Bourn sure fills a need. The Braves, who are six games behind the Phillies in the NL East, haven’t had a prototypical leadoff hitter since Rafael Furcal left after the 2005 season.
“I’m excited,’’ Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He makes the defense do things they don’t want to do. Pitchers are going to throw pitches they don’t want to throw.’’
Atlanta leads the wild-card race and has been pursuing an outfielder for weeks, watching as the Phillies acquired Hunter Pence from the Astros and defending World Series champion San Francisco landed Carlos Beltran of the Mets.
Atlanta general manager Frank Wren called Bourn “a perfect fit’’ on a team that ranked 14th in the NL in stolen bases.
In addition to Schafer, the Braves parted with righthanders Juan Abreu and Paul Clemens and lefthander Brett Oberholtzer. Abreu was 4-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 41 games at Triple A Gwinnett. Clemens and Oberholtzer were both starters at Double A Mississippi.
Back for more The Rangers completed their second deal for a reliever in less than 18 hours with the acquisition of righthander Mike Adams from the Padres. Texas sent minor league pitchers Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland to San Diego.
Adams is one of the majors’ best setup men. He was 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA in 48 appearances for the Padres, with 49 strikeouts and just nine walks. He’ll join former Oriole Koji Uehara, picked up Saturday, in the Texas bullpen.
There had been countless reports leading up to yesterday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline that Texas was in serious discussions with the Padres for closer Heath Bell, who will be a free agent after the season. The Rangers instead got Adams, who will be under their control through the 2012 season.
Both the righthanded Wieland (10-3, 1.80 ERA) and the lefthanded Erlin (8-4, 3.34) have split the season between Double A Frisco and Single A Myrtle Beach.
Good health report The Indians finalized their trade for former Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez after the righthander passed his physical. Colorado received minor league pitchers Alex White and Joe Gardner, first baseman Matt McBride, and a player to be named, who is expected to be Drew Pomeranz. White and Pomeranz are considered the top two pitching prospects in Cleveland’s organization.
“This was a rare and unique opportunity, especially in our market,’’ Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. “We requested the physical, the Rockies complied and if we were not happy - there was no deal.’’
Antonetti got the results he wanted to hear. However, there was another injury concern. McBride fouled a ball off home plate and into his face Friday, but he is expected to be fine.
Pirates get Ludwick The Pirates added a bat for the second straight day, acquiring outfielder Ryan Ludwick from the Padres for a player to be named or cash. Ludwick is batting just .238, but led the Padres with 11 home runs and 64 RBIs. Pittsburgh traded for Orioles first baseman Derrek Lee on Saturday . . . The Diamondbacks improved their bullpen by trading for A’s righthander Brad Ziegler. Oakland received lefthander Jordan Norberto and first baseman Brandon Allen. Ziegler had a 2.39 ERA in 43 appearances . . . The Cardinals made their trade with the Dodgers official, getting veteran shortstop Furcal in exchange for Double A outfielder Alex Castellanos.