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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Braves land relievers Pierce Johnson and Taylor Hearn in trades with Rockies and Rangers

The NL-leading Atlanta Braves traded for a pair of relievers Monday, acquiring right-hander Pierce Johnson from Colorado and lefty Taylor Hearn from Texas.

The moves could help Atlanta (64-34) fortify its beleaguered bullpen for the final two months of the season. Braves left-hander A.J. Minter was placed on the 15-day injured list with left shoulder inflammation earlier this month, joining right-hander Nick Anderson (60-day IL) on the sidelines.

Atlanta boasts the best record in the majors despite also being without left-hander Dylan Lee (left shoulder inflammation) and right-hander Jesse Chavez (bruised left shin).

So clearly the Braves needed help. They gave up pitching prospects Victor Vodnik and Tanner Gordon to land Johnson. The 23-year-old Vodnik was 3-1 with a 3.10 ERA in 30 relief outings for Double-A Mississippi. The 25-year-old Gordon has split this season between Triple-A Gwinnett and Mississippi, combining to go 5-9 with a 5.86 ERA in 17 games.

They got Hearn for cash considerations. He had been designated for assignment last week. He began the season with the Rangers and posted a 10.29 ERA in four relief outings before being optioned to Triple-A Round Rock in mid-April.

Johnson should step into the bullpen immediately. The 32-year-old was 1-5 with a 6.00 ERA for the Rockies, having pitched 39 innings in 43 outings, striking out 58 and walking 25.

He was a 2012 first-round draft pick by the Chicago Cubs. In his career, Johnson has an 11-14 record and 4.48 ERA, with 185 relief appearances and 13 saves.

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