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Braves acquire Maholm, Johnson from Cubs
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The Atlanta Braves boosted their rotation and added a right-handed bat to their bench Monday night by acquiring left-hander Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson from the Chicago Cubs.

Braves general manager Frank Wren confirmed the team is sending right-handed pitchers Arodys Vizcaino, a top prospect who had season-ending Tommy John surgery in April, and Jaye Chapman to the Cubs, who also sent cash to the Braves.

Wren said the team views Vizcaino as a rising power reliever, but he said Maholm and Johnson are players who can make a difference for the Braves' hopes of catching Washington in the NL East.

"We want to put ourselves in a good position to win the division, not just make the playoffs," Wren said.
"We were looking for a starter, a quality starter that could give us the kind of production we needed up and down the rotation."

There was also talk the Cubs were speaking to Texas about a deal for catcher Geovany Soto. Johnson and Soto were pulled in the middle of the game as Chicago beat Pittsburgh 14-4, and hugged teammates in the dugout.

Tuesday afternoon is the deadline for teams to make trades without waivers. Cubs ace Ryan Dempster has attracted interest from several clubs.

The Braves have won six straight and trail the first-place Nationals by 3 1-2 games.

The Braves recently removed Jair Jurrjens from the rotation. Kris Medlen, who has been a key reliever, will make his first start of the season on Tuesday night against Miami.

Wren called the deal "a perfect fit" for the Braves' needs.

"We got two real key fits for us," Wren said.

"If we are done, if nothing else transpires tomorrow, we will be real happy with where we are."

Maholm, 29, is 9-6 with a 3.74 ERA, including a 4-0 record and 1.23 ERA in July. He is 62-79 in eight seasons, including seven with Pittsburgh.

"The thing that keeps coming back from our scouts is he doesn't give in," Wren said.

"To have the opportunity to get a quality left-handed pitcher at any time, we're excited about that."

The Braves will have a $6.5 million option to retain Maholm in 2013.

Johnson is hitting .333 against left-handers this season. He is 13 for 29 (.448) as a pinch hitter.

"We need another right-handed hitter," Wren said, adding the team also had interest in Johnson last year.

Chapman is 3-6 with a 3.52 ERA at Triple-A Gwinnett. Vizcaino was 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA in 17 games with Atlanta in 2011.

The 35-year-old Johnson is hitting .307 with three homers and 16 RBIs. He has played all three outfield positions and is a career .284 hitter.

Johnson started in center field and led off for the Cubs on Monday night. He reached on an error to start Chicago's nine-run fifth inning. After the Cubs batted around, he was due to bat again in the inning but did not come out onto the on-deck circle.

After a brief delay, David DeJesus was sent out to pinch-hit. TV showed Johnson exchanging hugs with teammates.

Wren said Maholm may join the team in Atlanta on Wednesday. Johnson is expected to join the team on Tuesday.

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