- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 31, 2012

ATLANTA (AP) - The Atlanta Braves boosted their rotation and added a right-handed bat to their bench Monday night by acquiring lefty Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson from the Chicago Cubs.

Braves general manager Frank Wren confirmed the team traded right-handed pitchers Arodys Vizcaino, a top prospect who had season-ending Tommy John surgery in April, and Jaye Chapman to the Cubs. The Braves also got cash in the deal.

With the trade deadline looming Tuesday afternoon, the Cubs figured to keep busy.

Chicago catcher Geovany Soto was pulled from Monday night’s 14-4 win over Pittsburgh, as was Johnson, and they both hugged teammates in the dugout. The Cubs were expected to send Soto to Texas.

“He came out of the game and said goodbye,” Cubs backup catcher Steve Clevenger said. “Everybody said he was traded and we went on from there.”

Cubs ace Ryan Dempster has attracted interest from several clubs. Recently, a deal to send Dempster to Atlanta through.

Instead, with the Braves having won six straight and only 3 1-2 games behind Washington in the NL East and in the thick of the wild-card chase, they plucked another Cubs pitcher.

“It was one of those situations obviously where Atlanta was in the market for a starting pitcher,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said with a chuckle. “It made the conversation a little bit easier.”

“There’s certainly no hard feeling from the front office on what happened” with the potential Dempster deal, Hoyer said.

“As the deadline gets closer, people’s positions become more clear. I think it will be busy tonight and I think it will be busy in the morning,” Hoyer said.

“There will be a lot of calls. Whether we’re going to make other deals, we’ll see. But I know there will be a lot of phone calls,” he said. “I don’t think tonight is going to be one with a lot of sleep.”

Wren said the team views Vizcaino as a rising power reliever, but he said Maholm and Johnson are players who can make a difference for the Braves‘ playoff hopes.

“We want to put ourselves in a good position to win the division, not just make the playoffs,” Wren said.

“We were looking for a starter, a quality starter that could give us the kind of production we needed up and down the rotation.”

Hoyer said trading Maholm, who has an option year for 2013, and Johnson, who will be a free agent, is “the kind of chance we need to take right now.”

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