Well, what we all expected to happen did late Monday night, as Wren dealt for a RH OF and a starting pitcher. Good news in this deal is that Teheran/Delgado/Minor/Gilmartin/Graham were not involved, but Arodys Vizcaino was a pretty heavy price to pay for a 3-4 starter and bench player.
However, Wren had to make a deal. No way with last September's collapse and little offseason changes was he going to simply make just another Paul Janish tweak. He had to do something significant, and the price was steep for quality players this year.
Before we dive into why this move made more sense than others, I'll give a quick breakdown on why I like this move.
Maholm has been a consistent 3-4 quality starter for 6+ years, even if his W-L looks bad - he's played on some pretty bad teams. He is a flyball pitcher who fits very nicely into Turner Field, where he has a 1.62 career ERA. Maholm is also 4-0 vs the NL East this year...
The Braves hold a team option for Maholm for '13 at 6.5 million which gives the team more flexibility with their starters, which will include still unproven young prospects and a recovering Beachy.
Reed Johnson is a utility outfielder the Braves have coveted for some time. In simple terms, he's a better, more versatile, more athletic Matt Diaz. Johnson can give Prado or Bourn days off, while hitting 1st or 2nd in the order. Not likely a guy the team will re-sign, but the type of player you want in October.
As for the cost, Chapman is viewed as a back end bullpen guy, so not much in terms of prospect value there went to Chicago. The value is in Vizcaino, who the Braves received from NYY in the Melky trade. He is one of the big 4 pitching prospects that were untouchable last summer, where any of the 4 could have netted the Braves the bat they needed, like Beltran.
Vizcaino is currently recovering from TJ, but should be ready to go close to the beginning of the '13 season, and will still be 22. The reason I'm ok with Viz being part of the deal is that it became apparent as he progressed through the Braves minor league system that he was a future reliever. To is point, he hasn't had command of a 3rd pitch. He can be a very good reliever, even a potential closer, but it's much easier to give up a reliever than a potential front-line starter, like Teheran/Delgado/Minor.
As for those that wanted a higher quality starter...they just weren't available for a reasonable price. Dempster for Delgado was iffy at best, as it gave the Braves a solid #2, but a guy that was signing in LA in a few months. Teams were listening on aces like Lee, Johnson, Shields, and Hernandez, but it wasn't in the Braves best interests to engage in too much of those talks. Shields, Hernandez, and Johnson are all under control through 2013 with reasonable salaries, but 1.5 years of them is not worth 2 of the Teheran/Delgado/Minor trio. Lee would be solid as well, but is 33 and owed 90+ million until 2016. That would tie up at least 25% of the teams payroll and guys like Freeman, McCann, Heyward, Prado, Kimbrel, and Hanson are up for extensions soon.
Essentially, the deal makes sense for both sides. Wren had to do something, and getting a veteran #3 starter and RH OF were exactly what was needed. The Cubs get a potential power arm prospect that may not be ready for a while, but they aren't ready to win anytime soon anyway.
As of July 31, the Braves are in the playoffs as 1 of the 2 WC teams. Hopefully, this move gives the team some momentum and they can win their 1st division title since 2005. Or, even better, win a post-season series for the 1st time since 2001...