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Acquired OF-R L.J. Hoes from the Astros; designated 1B-L Andy Wilkins for assignment. [11/25]

These O's are loyal. Hoes returns to his original organization more than two years after being dealt away in the Bud Norris trade. Back then, Hoes was viewed as a hit-tool outfielder whose fundamentals covered for his lacking athleticism. Since then? His most noteworthy accomplishment has been aging. Hoes has had no issue singling and walking against Triple-A competition, but has wilted in the majors, showing alarming amounts of swing-and-miss for a player so dependent on his bat-to-ball skills. He turns 26 in March, which ought to give you hope he can settle into a bench role. Alas Hoes comes without options, meaning he'll need to make an impact in spring, lest he take the next steps toward organizational-player status. —R.J. Anderson

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Acquired RHP Kirby Yates from the Rays in exchange for cash considerations; designated OF-R Michael Choice for assignment. [11/25]

Here's how poorly Yates pitched last season: he allowed 4.4 home runs per nine during his big-league stint; no other pitcher with 20-plus innings averaged more than 3.6. Yes, small sample size and whatnot, but getting hit so hard requires more than bad luck. In Yates' case, it required shaky command and stuff. His deceptive arm action—likened in the past to someone using a Q-Tip—helps his low-to-mid-90s fastball play quicker from his low release point, yet also requires his arm to drag, leading to sloppy geography. Factor in how Yates lacks a real weapon against lefties (his changeup has been in development approximately as long as Michael Lewis' Moneyball follow-up), and it's no wonder why sustained success in the majors has evaded him. With a 29th birthday coming up in March, the most-likely outcome here is up-and-down reliever. Fortunately, Yates can be optioned in 2016. —R.J. Anderson

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Signed RHP Bud Norris to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. [11/25]

Norris' season will be best remembered for his inane comments on foreign-born players, yet for as brainless as his remarks appeared, perhaps he intended for them to steal attention from his on-the-field troubles. While missing a month due to bronchitis, Norris registered career worsts in ERA (6.72), DRA (6.54), and HR/9 (1.6) in 83 innings. The Orioles, who had dealt for Norris at the 2013 trade deadline, promptly released him in August.

Before the wheels fell off in 2015, Norris had carved out a niche under the pseudonym League-Average Innings-Muncher (though lackluster home-run rates were always a concern). From 2010 through 2014, the right hander logged five consecutive seasons with at least 150 innings and an FIP no worse than 4.27. Though he was overbilled as something of an ace on occasion, Norris provided the sort of non-flashy mediocrity that managers didn't mind penciling in to a back-end rotation slot.

The Braves are hopeful Norris returns to that status, and he's set to serve as depth in a rotation that—for now—consists of Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, and a cast of unproven youngsters who will sort themselves out by spring training. As rumors persist about both Miller and Teheran being moved as part of Atlanta's rebuild, Norris' arrival could help spare the Braves from having to forfeit games due to a lack of pitchers. If, as an added bonus, he rebuilds his value in the process, there's a decent chance he's turned into a D-list prospect by July.

Prior to last season, Norris had worked as a starter in all but three of his big-league appearances. After being picked up by the Padres as a low-risk flyer, Norris was sent to the bullpen exclusively and his lost season found its silver lining, albeit in 16 2/3 innings, as he struck out 21 batters, walked six, and surrendered a lone home run down the stretch. His velocity also spiked to 98-plus mph while sitting in the 96-97 range, three or four ticks up from where he generally worked while starting. If the Braves can't rework Norris as an effective starter, Plan B is a permanent move to the 'pen. —Dustin Palmateer

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Acquired LHP Rex Brothers for LHP Wander Cabrera. [11/25]

The point of this trade is that it makes the Cubs better right now without making them a whole lot worse in the future, and it doesn’t cost them a lot of money. I know it’s boring to say things as plainly as that; please forgive me. That’s just the way things are in Chicago these days. Theo Epstein and the rest of the Cubs’ brass have their eyes firmly fixed on winning in the here and now, and would rather spend their relatively scarce resources (remember, Cubs’ ownership is still buried under onerous debt payments agreed upon as part of their 2009 sale) on filling the big holes on the North Side—in center field, and in the starting rotation—than on signing a big-name reliever into a bullpen that actually performed extremely well last year (their 3.37 FIP was tops in the majors).

So no, Darren O’Day was never likely to land in Chicago. And Aroldis Chapman won’t find a home with the Cubs, either. Instead, a parade of relievers with cheap contracts, big arms, and half-realized major-league dreams have recently found themselves rostered members of Chicago’s National League ballclub. On November 6th, the Cubs claimed Ryan Cook off waivers from the Red Sox. On the 18th, they signed Yankee farmhand Andury Acevedo to a big-league deal. A day later, Jack Leathersich was claimed off waivers from the Mets, and a day after that, Spencer Patton came over in a trade from Texas. Brothers, acquired from Colorado just in time to celebrate the occasion over turkey and casserole, is just the latest addition to Chicago’s increasingly diversified relief portfolio.

And there’s a lot to like here for the Cubs: Brothers was a first round pick for Colorado back in 2009, and streaked through the Rockies’ system the next year on the back of big strikeout numbers and a high-90s four-seamer. He made his big-league debut midway through the 2011 campaign, putting up strong numbers (3.27 DRA, 2.95 K/BB) over 40 â…“ major league innings. The fun continued in 2012 (3.20 DRA, 1.3 WARP) and 2013 (3.28 DRA, 1.1 WARP), as Brothers rode a fastball-slider-changeup combo to strong aggregate results. His fastball and slider, in particular, are probably of great interest to Chicago: both generate more than the usual number of ground balls, which is a useful characteristic in a pitcher throwing half his innings at Wrigley.

Although Brothers’ star has dimmed a bit over the last two years—his fastball velocity is down by about four miles per hour since his debut, and his strikeout to walk ratio is now on the wrong side of even (0.63 in 2015)— there’s still a big arm in there, and the Cubs are betting on pitching coach Chris Bosio’s ability to clean up his fastball location, improve his sequencing, and turn the bottom-line results around. To get that chance at the cost of Cabrera, who the Cubs view as a prospect, but a long shot to make the big leagues, much less dominate them? This is another solid move for Chicago, which is likely about done improving their bullpen for 2016: their 40-man currently sits at 38, with at least two large roster holes left to fill. Not bad for two weeks’ work. —Rian Watt

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Acquired LHP Wander Cabrera for LHP Rex Brothers. [11/25]

The Cubs gave Cabrera $250,000 as an arm strength lefty without much polish, and a year later, he remains an arm strength lefty without much polish. His four-seamer will get up to 92 with some life, and it comes from a frame that still has projection. He'll also show an average curve with decent break and spin, but the pitch is rarely in the strike zone and he doesn't always keep a consistent arm slot. He's still working on adding a third pitch, and he doesn't do a very good job of repeating his delivery, though neither of these things is terribly uncommon for teenagers.

You won't see Cabrera in the big leagues in this decade, and while his athleticism and arm strength make him intriguing, he's just as likely to become organizational fodder as he is a member of a big league pitching staff. —Christopher Crawford

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Signed OF/1B-L Jake Goebbert to a big-league deal; acquired RHP Allen Webster from the Diamondbacks in exchange for cash considerations. [11/25]

The new Travis Snider, or the new Andrew Lambo? Those are the stakes at play for Goebbert, whose staying power on 40-man rosters has been as impressive as his 2014 stint in the majors was unimpressive. Goebbert is known foremost as a grinder, which, in this instance, is the kind way of asserting he lacks the power for a corner and the athleticism to handle anything up the middle. You might see a pinch-hitter type if you stare at Triple-A numbers for long enough. That, or a dolphin.

By comparison, Webster is much more interesting. He's without options, so his stay in Pittsburgh could be a brief one. Still, you can envision Ray Searage taking some drop out of Webster's drop-and-drive delivery, or altering his hand position or . . . well, you get the point, and then having it click as Webster turns into a quality reliever thanks to his sinker and changeup. Maybe that's expecting too much—last season Webster had an 8.18 ERA in Triple-A—but it's a credit to Searage and the Pirates that a quick, successful turnaround, while not a given, is regarded as a legitimate possibility for their project arms. —R.J. Anderson

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So much rec for the first line of Anderson's O's-Hoes analysis.