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Vazquez trade to be finalized Thursday

Vazquez trade to be finalized Thursday

Javier Vazquez's tenure with the White Sox has apparently come to an end, but the six-player trade that will send the pitcher to the Braves is not expected to be officially finalized until at least Thursday morning.

The deal cannot be announced until all players have passed their physicals. Vazquez was scheduled to have an MRI exam in Atlanta on Wednesday evening, and the Braves won't have the results of that exam until team physician Dr. Xavier Duralde meets with Vazquez early Thursday morning.

If everything turns out fine on the MRI, then the Braves are expected to introduce their new pitcher to the local media in a press conference at Turner Field later in the day.

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The White Sox and Braves agreed to terms Tuesday night on a six-player trade that will send Vazquez and left-handed reliever Boone Logan to Atlanta in exchange for infielder Brent Lillibridge, catcher Tyler Flowers, third baseman Jon Gilmore and left-hander Santos Rodriguez.

By trading Vazquez, the White Sox freed up a considerable amount of money while also going with the club's plan to go younger and more athletic with its roster. Vazquez, 32, is under contract through 2010 and will earn $11.5 million in each of the next two seasons.

But while the White Sox gained four quality young players in the trade, they'll also have to figure out how to replace Vazquez in the rotation. Despite some struggles late in the year -- when he went 0-4 with a 13.22 ERA in his final four starts, including a loss in Game 1 of the American League Division Series -- Vazquez provided the White Sox with over 200 innings pitched in each of the previous three seasons.

Currently, the only three pitchers locked in for the Chicago rotation next season are left-handers Mark Buehrle and John Danks and right-hander Gavin Floyd.

The White Sox might now be searching for pitching, but this trade gives them more than enough young infielders. Lillibridge, 25, will join Josh Fields, Wilson Betemit, Alexei Ramirez, Jayson Nix, Chris Getz and Dayan Viciedo in competing for three open infield spots. Ramirez, who is being moved to shortstop, appears to be the only lock for a job right now.

Lillibridge entered the 2008 season as one of the top prospects in the Braves' farm system. Although he struggled offensively, hitting just .220 in 90 games with Triple-A Richmond, Lillibridge brings a tremendous amount of speed to the Sox roster. He's been successful in 127 of his 162 stolen-base attempts in the Minors.

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The White Sox also added talent in areas other than the infield with the trade. Flowers, 22, caught the attention of many, including White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, while playing in the Arizona Fall League.

Flowers batted .387 with 12 home runs and 23 RBIs in 20 games for the Mesa Solar Sox. Flowers was coming off a season in which he hit .288 with 17 home runs and 88 RBIs at high Class A Myrtle Beach.

But Flowers, like the other two players the Sox acquired in the deal, remains a few years away from the Majors. Scouts have raved about Flowers' offensive potential, yet they say he needs to improve defensively if he is to catch at the Major League level.

Gilmore, a 20-year-old third baseman, hit .186 in 27 games with Class A Rome this past season. While with rookie level Danville in 2007, he hit .337 with four homers and a .473 slugging percentage.

Rodriguez, a 20-year-old left-handed pitcher, went 1-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 14 relief appearances for the Gulf Coast League Braves this year. In 29 innings, he recorded 45 strikeouts and issued 13 walks.

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

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