Sports Outside the Beltway

Braves Trade for Closer Bob Wickman

The Braves have acquired veteran closer Bob Wickman from the Indians.

Sensing a playoff surge, the Atlanta Braves traded for proven closer Bob Wickman, sending a minor leaguer to the
Cleveland Indians on Thursday to address a lingering weakness. The 37-year-old Wickman has been successful on 15 of 18 save chances this season, and tied for the AL lead last year with 45 saves. To get him, Atlanta traded Class A catcher Max Ramirez.

The Braves have won 14 straight division titles, but their chances looked to be in doubt when they were 33-46. Since then, Atlanta has won 12 of 16 to get back into wild-card contention, five games behind Cincinnati.

AJC has more details:

The Braves filled their most glaring need Thursday by acquiring veteran Cleveland Indians closer Bob Wickman in a trade for a minor league catching prospect — and not top prospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Braves traded Class A catcher Max Ramirez for Wickman, 37, who has converted 15 of 18 save opportunities this season and was 1-4 with a 4.18 ERA and only one home run allowed.


“We had a need to bolster our bullpen,” Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. “Bob is a proven closer with more than 200 saves, and we are confident he will help to anchor the bullpen in the ninth inning.” Wickman has a 3.64 career ERA with 229 saves in 290 opportunities, and gives the Braves their first established veteran closer since John Smoltz moved back to the starting rotation after the 2004 season.

Wickman, the Indians’ all-times saves leader, had to approve the deal as a 10-and-5 player with at least 10 years of major league service and five with his current team. Wickman led the American League with a career-high 45 saves last season in 50 opportunities. It was his fifth season with at least 25 saves for Milwaukee and Cleveland. Before he moved from middle relief/setup work to a closer role, he led the National League with 28 “holds” for Milwaukee in 1997 and led the AL with 53 appearances for the Yankees in the shortened 1994 season.

Atlanta relievers have a National League-worst 20 blown saves in 40 opportunities, and the Braves have had inconsistency all season from closers Chris Reitsma, Ken Ray and Jorge Sosa.


Ramirez, 21, was batting .285 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs for Class A Rome. The Venezuelan is a bright young prospect, but the Braves have 22-year-old All-Star catcher Brian McCann and Saltalamacchia, who’s having a terrible season at Class AA Mississippi but remains a top prospect.

One hates to trade promising young talent away to acquire players in the twilight of their career but the Braves are only going to get so many chances to win another World Series. I hope it’s not too late.

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