Braves land lefty reliever Downs in two-player trade

BY foxsports • July 29, 2013

ATLANTA -- Frank Wren and the Braves acquired the left-handed reliever they've been shopping for on Monday, trading for Angels specialist Scott Downs. The Braves gave up minor league reliever Cory Rasmus in the deal.

Downs, 37, holds a 2-3 record with a 1.84 ERA this season. He's allowed left-handed batters to hit just .196/.255/.216 so far. The Braves were rumored to be in the market for a left-handed reliever -- as well as a quality starter -- as the Wednesday's 4 p.m. trade deadline neared, and Downs' strong numbers appears to fit the profile.

"Downs is one of the best left-handed relievers in the game. Over the last few years, he's been one of the guys that you know can shut down lefties but he also has that sinker that he can go through a right-handed portion of a lineup," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "So he doesn't just give you the lefty-only situational reliever that, No. 1, we were looking for. He's a guy that we feel real comfortable with putting in that seventh, eighth inning. He's done it."

After reliable lefties Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty were lost for the season to Tommy John surgery, Atlanta had relied on Luis Avilan (48 appearances, 1.29 ERA) and rookie Alex Wood (15 relief appearances, 2.37 ERA) to carry the bullpen's lefty load.

"We've done a good job of manning it with O'Flaherty and Venters going down and I think we got to this point in the season where you want to give some reinforcements to your bullpen," Wred said. "You want to give those guys a chance to know there's someone else that can carry the load."

Enter Downs.

Due to be a free agent following the season, he's exactly the type of veteran presence and specialist Wren was expected to be chasing. In 12 major league seasons with four teams, Downs has proven to be a valuable commodity since moving to the bullpen full-time in 2006.

In giving up Rasmus, 25, the Braves dealt a right-handed reliever who had struggled since making his major league debut this season. A former first-round pick of the Braves in 2006, he held the team's worst WAR (-0.3), ERA (8.10) and fielding-independent pitching (10.39) numbers in 6 2/3 innings of work.

Rasmus was at Triple-A Gwinnett when the deal was made.

The Braves will need to make room on their active roster, which will
likely cost 6-foot-8 reliever Kameron Loe (two appearances, 10.13 ERA) his spot. Downs will be available to pitch during the four-game home series against the Rockies, perhaps as early as Monday night depending on when his flight from Dallas touches ground in Atlanta.

"It's satisfying," Wren said. "I think we were excited last night that we saw this having a chance and almost you pinch yourself a little bit because it's still a couple days before the deadline and you still have a chance to get a key piece, at least a key piece for us. Now we can continue to look to see if we can perfect some other areas."