The Atlanta Braves acquired speedy Gold Glove outfielder Michael Bourn in a five-player swap with the Houston Astros on Sunday as Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline closed in a flurry of deals.
The St Louis Cardinals also continued to load up for a pennant run, grabbing shortstop Rafael Furcal from the Los Angeles Dodgers while the Boston Red Sox bolstered their starting rotation by landing lefty Erik Bedard from the Seattle Mariners.
Bourn, who is hitting .303 and leads the majors with 39 stolen bases, heads to Atlanta in exchange for outfielder Jordan Schafer and minor-league pitchers Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens and Juan Abreu.
“Michael Bourn is a perfect fit for our club, which focuses on speed and defense to match up with our strong pitching,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said on the MLB Web site.
“This trade gives us the first true leadoff hitter we’ve had in a number of years,” Wren said.
A Gold Glove winner in 2009 and last year, the explosive 28-year-old center fielder posted a career-high 61 stolen bases in 2009, just two fewer than the entire Braves team.
A two-time All-Star, the switch-hitting Furcal has been slowed by injuries this season, batting just .197. During 12 major league seasons he has a career average of .283 with 101 homers and 520 RBIs.
The Furcal deal comes on the heels of an eight-player swap with the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday that brought starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, relievers Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel and outfielder Corey Patterson to St Louis for outfielder Colby Rasmus and three relievers.
The Texas Rangers were also active ahead of the deadline, acquiring reliever Mike Adams from the San Diego Padres for two minor league pitching prospects.
Adams adds another strong arm to the Rangers bullpen, the righthander posting a record of 3-1 in 48 relief appearances this season and recording 49 strikeouts against nine walks.
The Arizona Diamondbacks also made a move to improve their bullpen by getting sidearm reliever Brad Ziegler from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for minor league first baseman Brandon Allen and reliever Jordan Norberto.
Ziegler was 3-2 with a 2.39 ERA in 43 appearances this season and is 11-13 with a 2.49 ERA in 223 games over his four-year career — all with Oakland.
Just before the trade window closed, the Red Sox acquired Bedard from the Mariners in a three-team deal that also included the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Seattle shipped Bedard and minor league reliever Josh Fields to the Red Sox, who had earlier acquired outfielder Trayvon Robinson from the Dodgers for minor league catcher Tim Federowicz, Juan Rodriguez and Stephen Fife.
Boston then sent Robinson and minor league outfielder Chiang Chih-hsien to the Mariners to complete the swap.
A day after failing to land Oakland starter Rich Harden, the Red Sox turned their attention to Bedard, who is 4-7 with a 3.45 ERA in 16 starts this season but only returned to action last Friday after missing a month with a sprained left knee.
The Red Sox have gambled on Bedard, who missed last season and part of 2009 with shoulder problems.