Linebrink is a 34-year old reliever and a veteran of both the American and National Leagues. He spent five years with San Diego, where he posted a collective 2.73 ERA. He's spent the last three years with the White Sox. He is in the final year of a four-year contract and scheduled to make $5.5 million in 2011. More than likely the White Sox will be picking up some of that salary.
Cofield was ranked by Baseball America as the 24th-best Braves prospect before the 2010 season. Talking Chop ranked him as the team's fifth-best relief prospect this year, though did not rank him among the team's top-25 prospects this year or last. Cofield drew praise from several Braves coaches last spring training, but was largely unimpressive during the minor league season at double-A Mississippi. He is a former eighth-round draft pick from 2005.
My initial reaction is that this is a good trade for the Braves. They've been looking for a veteran reliever, and Linebrink gives them a veteran setup man and experienced eighth inning guy to take the place of Takashi Saito. The price tag is a bit high, but we'll have to see how much if any of his salary the White Sox chip in for. I like this move of getting a setup man better than getting someone who used to be a closer (like Putz), that might send the wrong signal to Craig Kimbrel that he can't be trusted with the ninth inning responsibilities.
Mark Bowman reports that a source said the Braves will receive $1.5 million from the White Sox to help cover Linebrink's $5.5 million. So not quite the half that most of us where hoping for, but that means Linebrink is a $4 million setup man to the Braves. I guess in this baseball world of overpaid relievers that's an okay deal. Really it just means that now we have our very own overpaid reliever. I'll notch this trade down from good to decent since we didn't get quite the salary relief I was hoping for.
Mark Bowman now reports that multiple sources have said the actual amount the Braves received from the White Sox is $3.5 million, $2 million more than previously believed. With this knowledge in hand I will re-rate this trade as a good one for the Braves. With Atlanta only picking up $2 million of his salary that doesn't make Linebrink overpaid in the least (as far as the Braves payroll is concerned). That makes him as affordable as Peter Moylan will be this year after arbitration. Between Linebrink, Moylan, Eric O'Flaherty, Scott Proctor, Craig Kimbrel, and Jonny Venters, the Braves will spend around $7 million on their bullpen with one spot to fill. That's at least half of what they spent on the pen last year, and it should be just as good.