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Braves trade Estrada for two Diamondback pitchers

DALLAS -- New Arizona general manager Josh Byrnes completed his first trade Wednesday, filling one of the Diamondbacks' pressing needs with the acquisition of All-Star catcher Johnny Estrada from the Atlanta Braves for right-handed relievers Lance Cormier and Oscar Villarreal.

The Diamondbacks are confident that Estrada is healthy after being limited to 105 games last season following a collision at home plate on June 6 with Darin Erstad of the Los Angeles Angels. Estrada was hospitalized overnight with a concussion and didn't play for a week after that.

"The doctors spoke and we're comfortable with the
information," Byrnes said.

"We know for certain that he is completely recovered from
that," Braves GM John Schuerholz said.

Estrada's injury provided an opportunity for rookie Brian McCann to play more. McCann hit .278 in 59 regular season games and then hit a home run off Roger Clemens in his first postseason at-bat.

With the Braves likely to start McCann behind the plate next year, they had the chance to trade Estrada in an attempt to improve their beleaguered bullpen.

Cormier was 7-3 with a 5.11 ERA in 67 relief appearances last season, and Villarreal went 2-0 with a 5.27 ERA in 11 relief appearances. Cormier is 25 and Villarreal is 24.

"I think these guys can help us," Schuerholz said.

The Braves later traded Dan Kolb back to the Milwaukee Brewers for right-hander Wes Obermueller.

Kolb, a 30-year-old right-hander, flopped as Atlanta's closer, losing the job less than two months into last season. He was 3-8 with a 5.93 ERA in his only season with the Braves, a year after an All-Star season when he had 39 saves for Milwaukee, where he returns as a setup man to Derrick Turnbow.

The Braves didn't offer salary arbitration Wednesday night to 47-year-old first baseman Julio Franco, outfielder Todd Hollandsworth or right-hander Jay Powell. None of those free agents could re-sign with Atlanta before May 1.

The 29-year-old Estrada, acquired in December 2002 from Philadelphia for pitcher Kevin Millwood, hit .261 last season with four home runs and 39 RBI. He made the NL All-Star team in 2004, when he batted .314 with nine homers and 76 RBI.

"We had a need, and we hope it's filled for several years
now," the 35-year-old Byrnes said.

Arizona catcher Chris Snyder is considered a strong defensive player, but hit just .202 in 115 games last season.

Byrnes was the assistant GM for the Boston Red Sox before being hired by the Diamondbacks to replace Joe Garagiola Jr., who
resigned to become senior vice president of baseball operations in
the commissioner's office.

Byrnes completed his first trade with Schuerholz, the
longest-tenured GM in the majors after 15 seasons with the Braves.

"One of the youngest and least experienced GMs, and one of the
oldest and most experienced hook up and make a deal," Schuerholz
said.

"He absolutely knows what he wants. He's very direct and to the
point," Byrnes said. "He is certainly the best GM in my lifetime,
and maybe of all time."