Braves acquire Ledezma in trade

Braves acquire Ledezma in trade

ATLANTA -- When Wilfredo Ledezma travels to Atlanta late Wednesday night, he'll be accompanying his former Tigers teammates and looking ahead to his future with the Braves.

Before Wednesday night's series finale against the Red Sox, the Braves announced that they had acquired Ledezma from the Tigers in exchange for Macay McBride. Both left-handed relievers are expected to be active with their new teams on Friday, when the Braves and Tigers begin a three-game series at Turner Field.

"[McBride] is a young guy still developing his [pitching] ability," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. "I think that will come. But it's obvious by our actions that we like Ledezma and his future better. The Tigers like the deal as well."

Ledezma, whose potential to be a starter made him even more desirable to the Braves, went 3-1 with a 4.79 ERA in 23 appearances with the Tigers this year. Since going 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in eight April appearances, he has gone 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA in 15 appearances.

There is some belief that Ledezma's struggles are a product of the fact that he'd be better utilized in a starting role. But for now, the Braves are going to use the 26-year-old southpaw as a reliever.

"He has a good arm and starting potential," Schuerholz said. "We don't know exactly when that will occur. But in the future, that's a possibility."

Statistically, Ledezma isn't exactly a great upgrade in comparison to McBride. He has surrendered 38 hits and issued 26 walks while registering just 24 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings this year. Opponents have hit .277 and registered a .390 on-base percentage against him.

McBride's greatest strength was his ability to retire some of the top left-handed hitters in the game. He saw lefties bat just .160 against him this year. Left-handers hit .340 against Ledezma and reached base at .400 clip.

"The reports are very good on Ledezma and we're going to take a crack on him," said Braves manager Bobby Cox during his pregame radio show on 640 WGST.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland believes Ledezma has the potential to be a successful starter. But with the abundance of top-flight arms in Detroit, his future as a starter existed elsewhere.

Ledezma has made 106 career appearances (33 starts) in the Majors. During the 25 starts he made from 2004-06, he went 7-8 with a 5.26 ERA.

"I think that he has a chance to be a [heck] of a Major League pitcher," Leyland said. "I think that he believe he could be a starter, but he knows that wasn't going to happen here."

McBride, the Braves' top selection in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, was targeted to be one of Atlanta's top relievers this year. After issuing 11 walks in his first three innings, he was sent to Triple-A Richmond. In the 12 innings he's completed since returning to Atlanta, he has posted a 3.00 ERA and issued four walks.

After learning of the trade on Wednesday afternoon, McBride took his equipment to the visitors' clubhouse in anticipation of Friday night's series opener.

"I don't think it has really sank in yet," McBride said. "If I had had to go somewhere else and play, it might have sank in a little quicker. It might make it easier this way."

Like Ledezma, McBride has the ability to be a starter. During his conversation with Leyland, the 25-year-old southpaw didn't get a sense of what his targeted role will be. But he did come away with the belief that his new organization at least plans to keep him in the Majors for this weekend's series.

One appealing aspect for the Tigers was the fact that if needed, they will have the opportunity to allow McBride to gain seasoning at Triple-A Toledo. They didn't have that luxury with Ledezma, who is out of Minor League options.

"I'll play it day-to-day," McBride said. "That's what you do when you've got options."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.