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Acquired OF-L Charlie Tilson from St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for LHP Zach Duke. [7/31]

Tilson has been in the Cardinals' system since being taken in the second round of the 2011 draft, but although he was extremely highly-regarded coming out of high school and has essentially hit at every level, he's sort of become lost in the shuffle. That's not gonna happen in Chicago.

Tilson's best tool is his speed; if it's not plus-plus, it's darn close, and when he's on base, he's someone pitchers have to pay close attention to. That's useless if he can't get on base, but hey, he can do that. He has a line-drive swing with very little wasted movement, and keeps his hands in to shoot line drives to left and center field. There's very little power here, but if you make a mistake middle-in, he can put it into the gap with the occasional homer or eight. There's very little swing-and-miss here, and he will draw a decent amount of walks as well.

Tilson is good with the bat, but he's better with the glove. The aforementioned speed lets him get to anything, and he has excellent instincts in the outfield. The only thing missing is an elite arm, but it's certainly good enough to play center field, and not so bad that he'd be taken advantage of if he's playing in a corner. The upside here is an everyday center fielder who just might hit enough to put at the top of your lineup, the floor is defense-first backup who can pinch-run for Jose Abreu. —Christopher Crawford

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Acquired LHP Zach Duke from Chicago White Sox in exchange for OF-L Charlie Tilson. [7/31]

Everyone thinks their team’s struggling lefty starter can go to the pen and get outs, so there have to be some LOOGY origin stories simple enough to build this trope. Zach Duke is a former below-average starter turned lefty specialist who can’t throw very hard and will never do anything that jumps off the screen, but he’s dropped his arm slot–and varies it for good measure–and sweeps a variety of breaking stuff across the plate to torment left-handed hitters. It’s worked well enough; he’s struck out 30.4 percent of the lefties he’s faced since changing up his approach and dropping said arm slot in 2014.

In these last three years, he stayed healthy and had one season where he’s masqueraded as an elite reliever, one year as a replacement-level crafty lefty with control issues, and this season that probably plops somewhere in between and leans in the direction of the former. The Cardinals will get a guy perfectly suited to take out lefties and more in the seventh and eighth innings, with the chance to roll the dice on him once more in 2017 for a now reasonable-seeming price of $5.5 million.

It takes a nice breeze for Duke to touch much above 90 mph on his fastball, so he doesn’t like to live in the strike zone too much, and has made a point to do less of it since remaking himself as a short reliever. Requiring hitters to chase means that the walks start piling up when he loses a bit of his deception against right-handed hitters (12.7 percent the last two seasons), though any analysis of how well he does against them is colored by him playing under a manager who calls for the free pass more than anyone in the league.

While the Cards are hardly impoverished in terms of lefty relief options, Duke’s ability to hold his own in full-inning work will allow them to play matchups late even more, which will thrill Mike Matheny at least, even if this move otherwise fails to electrify the populace. —James Fegan

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