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Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson traded to Braves; Geovany Soto sent to Rangers

DarwBarney gets high five from Geovany Soafter  Barney's three run home run fourth inning Chicago Cubs-Pittsburgh Pirates game Monday

Darwin Barney gets a high five from Geovany Soto after Barney's three run home run in the fourth inning of Chicago Cubs-Pittsburgh Pirates game Monday July 30, 2012 at Wrigley Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: September 1, 2012 6:20AM

The changing of the guard began Monday while the Cubs were pounding the Pittsburgh Pirates 14-4.

Outfielder Reed Johnson and catcher Geovany Soto were pulled in the middle of the game and
exited after saying goodbyes in the dugout.

Johnson and left-hander Paul Maholm were sent to the Atlanta Braves for two minor-league right-handers, one of whom is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Soto was traded to the Texas Rangers, but terms of that deal won’t be made final until Tuesday.

General manager Jed Hoyer said the deal with the Braves came about in the last several days. The Braves still wanted pitching after Ryan Dempster vetoed a trade there.

‘‘We’ve been clear that we’re not in contention, so we wanted to take current assets and turn them into long-term assets,’’ Hoyer said of acquiring minor-league pitchers Arodys Vizcaino, 21, and Jaye Chapman, 25, from the Braves.

Vizcaino had elbow surgery in March, but Hoyer said medical reports are positive and he is
expected to return next season. He was rated the Braves’ second-best prospect the surgery.

‘‘You’re taking a risk, but the medical reports are good, and they’ve generally perfected [the procedure] to where they come back pretty strong,’’ Hoyer said, calling it a risk worth taking ‘‘for an arm like this.’’

Multiple reports said the Rangers will send Class AA pitcher
Jacob Brigham, a 24-year-old right-hander who is 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA, to the Cubs. The Cubs also will send the Rangers cash.

More deals are expected Tuesday, and while Dempster remains the focal point, fellow right-hander Matt Garza and outfielder Alfonso Soriano also might be departing.

Reports late Monday had the Cincinnati Reds interested in Garza, while another report said Soriano, who has ‘‘10-and-5’’ veto rights, turned down a trade to the San Francisco Giants. The Detroit Tigers also are known to be interested in Soriano.

In Johnson, the Braves get the majors’ leading pinch hitter, as well as a reliable outfielder. In Maholm, they get a left-hander who set a Cubs record Sunday by making his sixth consecutive start of at least six innings while allowing one or no runs.

‘‘Both [Johnson and Maholm] said they enjoyed being Cubs,’’ Hoyer said. ‘‘Maholm told me he grew up a Braves fan.’’

Johnson was lifted in the Cubs’ nine-run fifth inning, and Soto, the National League Rookie of the Year in 2008, exited in the sixth.

Teammates were caught off guard at how the events unfolded during the game.

‘‘I’d never been part of something like that,’’ winning pitcher Justin Germano said.

‘‘I was in the weight room and thought I was going to pinch-hit,’’ said catcher Steve Clevenger, who replaced Soto. ‘‘You find out he’s been traded, and I said goodbye.’’

Clevenger will become the starting catcher now. His development was part of the reason the oft-injured Soto could be moved. Welington Castillo is expected to be recalled Tuesday as a backup catcher.

‘‘It’s hard,’’ said second baseman Darwin Barney, who had a big night, going 3-for-5 with a three-run homer, a triple, a single and a career-best four RBI. ‘‘I have no idea how it works. I wasn’t expecting that today.’’

‘‘There’s a reason those guys are wanted,’’ right-hander Jeff
Samardzija said. ‘‘Those guys come to work every day and do the job.’’

Soto had been bothered by injuries in recent seasons, but he was hitting well of late and had made 51 starts.

Earlier, the focus was on Dempster, who still was preparing for his scheduled start Tuesday. It’s likely he’ll be heading to a new team
before the first pitch.

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