The Columbus Criminals and Austin Unhinged Chaloupas have struck the first bargain of what once again promises to be a frenetic Winter Meetings.
Columbus gets SP prospect Eduardo Pena, a 3rd-year pro who was originally an int'l FA signee of the Tucson organization, and traded to Austin last season in the Vargas/Magadan deal. He's a junkballer with good command of 4 pitches...probably needs 2 more season in the minors but could be a very good ML starter.
Austin gets veteran C Pat Ramirez plus $5MM. Ramirez is the bat the Chaloupas were looking for and brings plus defensive skills to boot. "He's the guy we wanted, despite the fact that he only has 2 years left on his contract...we valued his lefty bat and great durability. When we heard he was available we jumped on it."
Analysis: The deal signals a possible change in direction for the Criminals, and a pretty clear one for Austin. Colombus posted its 2nd straight losing season last year after a nice 4-year run (Seasons 8-11) that saw 4 playoff appearances and a WS trip. We could be seeing the beginning of a rebuilding phase in Columbus. Austin, on the other hand, has been rebuilding for what seems like a decade, and now seems ready to make a big move.