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MLB: Cubs acquire catching prospect from Braves

Bonifacio, Russell bid goodbye

The Chicago Cubs traded utility player Emilio Bonifacio and left-handed reliever James Russell and cash considerations to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday for Class-A catcher Victor Caratini.

The deal was completed during the sixth inning of the Cubs’ game with Colorado at Wrigley Field.

Bonifacio was held out of the past two games as a trade seemed imminent. Bonifacio, 29, is a switch hitter who is batting .279 with 14 stolen bases, and can play the infield and outfield.

Russell left the bullpen in the sixth inning and returned 25 minutes later.

Russell, who had a 3.51 ERA in 44 appearances, returned to hug bullpen coach Lester Strode and his fellow relievers, and shook hands with fans before leaving.

Caratini, 20, was a second-round pick of the Braves in the 2013 draft. A native of Puerto Rico, Caratini batted .279 with five home runs and 42 RBIs in 87 games at Class A Rome. He will report to Class A Kane County.

“He’s a guy we liked in the draft a lot,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “We said all along catching is a weakness in our system, that we don’t have enough of it. To get a guy who is a switch-hitting catcher who controls the strike zone well and performed well, so we liked him in the draft. Our pro scouts liked him. He comes at a position we know is a weakness in our organization, so we’re excited to get him.’’

Caratini was ranked as the Braves’ top hitter and top power hitter in their 2013 draft class by Baseball America.

Russell and Bonifacio are scheduled to earn about $1.4 million for the rest of the season, and about $1 million will be sent to the Braves.

Hoyer said the trade won’t affect any of their current prospects. With a stockpile of shortstops and outfielders, the Cubs seek success by acquiring young power pitchers as they did last July with Jake Arrieta, who continued his ascent with seven innings of three-hit ball in a 3-1 victory Thursday over the Rockies.

Hoyer pointed to the lack of trades involving hitters, and the Cubs’ deep reservoir of hitting prospects, as a strong reason to believe they could trade for young power pitching they sorely need to blossom into a National League contender instead of a perennial seller.

“I like the fact we have a lot of volume of something that people don’t necessarily have right now,” Hoyer said. “But we know we’re not close on pitching. We know we have to add a lot of more depth and talent. Really, our next 18 to 24 months is going to [address] that.

“We’re still imbalanced. Certainly in the minor league system, we’re imbalanced. That’s going to be a huge priority. We know it.”

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