The Rundown: Arodys Vizcaino Traded to Braves for Tommy La Stella, Cubs Reportedly Front-Runner for Russell Martin

The Cubs made a surprising trade on Sunday afternoon. No, it wasn’t for a starting pitcher. Or for a catcher. Or a veteran outfielder who could provide leadership.

It was for a second baseman, of all things.

The Cubs traded RHP Arodys Vizcaino to the Braves for infielder Tommy La Stella. They also swapped their second, third and fourth international bonus signing slots for Atlanta’s fourth bonus slot.

I was pretty confused about this trade when I first read the news. Why would the Cubs be pulling off a trade for a second baseman, perhaps the deepest position in the organization?

It’s apparent to me now that you have to take out the position factor for this trade to make sense.

La Stella, 25, had a .328 OBP in 93 games with the Braves in 2014. After being drafted in 2011 by Atlanta, he posted an OBP over .400 in the minor leagues.

The new acquisition is clearly someone the Cubs believe in. “We tried to trade for him several times in the past,” GM Jed Hoyer told Jesse Rogers. “He’s left-handed, gets on base, and doesn’t strike out a lot. Those are three things we need.”

Even though the trade makes a little more sense to me now, it still presents some questions. What will Luis Valbuena’s role be? Can La Stella play any positions other than second base? How much playing time could he take away from Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara?

I bet it will be interesting to see how new manager Joe Maddon fits La Stella into the lineup. “How they fit may not be clear, but that was the case with Chris Coghlan last year and he worked his way into the lineup,” Hoyer said.

A lot of people immediately thought this trade meant a follow-up move would be coming. At least for now, Hoyer says that’s not the case. Obviously, Hoyer isn’t going to come out and admit they’ll be dealing one of the Cubs’ current infielders. But that picture sure looks pretty crowded to me right now.

As far as giving up Vizcaino in the deal, it’s kind of a shame he didn’t end up working out. He originally came over from Atlanta for Paul Maholm/Reed Johnson with high hopes.

People thought he could be a dominant bullpen piece, possibly a closer. Injuries got in the way, however, and he wasn’t able to quite live up to the hype with the Cubs. It still could happen, though, as Vizcaino is only 24.

In the end, the Cubs thought La Stella can be a better asset for them right now. It helps to have a bunch of power right-handed arms firmly entrenched in the bullpen, with Pedro Stop, Neil Ramirez and Hector Rondon. Armando Rivero is also a power arm the Cubs can look to in the future. I’m sure this makes parting with Vizcaino a little easier.

Rumor time: Russell Martin

The Cubs are the “front-runner” for free-agent catcher Russell Martin, with an expected deal at four years, $64 million, according to Ken Rosenthal. If the Cubs really believe in Martin’s leadership abilities, I say they go for it. If the Dodgers or another team offer up five years…I’d probably have to pass.

Rosenthal later stated that the Blue Jays could still be in the mix. I have a good feeling about Martin. My gut says he goes to the Cubs.

Other notes

* Arismendy Alcantara is now playing with the Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Republic. Carrie Muskat says he is hitless in his first two games, playing second base and center field.

* Some of the Wrigleyville rooftops are facing foreclosure, according to the Sun-Times. I’m not too surprised to hear this; I’m sure business for the rooftops has been slow-going for the past few years because of lousy Cubs teams. And with the way the Wrigley Field renovation saga played out, the reputation of the rooftops probably took a big hit, which couldn’t have helped business.

* MLB has declared Cuban prospect Yoan Moncado a free agent, reports Jesse Sanchez. The Office of Foreign Assets Control will need to approve before a team can sign him. Remember, the Cubs won’t be able to sign him before July 2 because they went over their 2012-2013 bonus pools. So if the process is drawn out, that can only help the Cubs.

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