Busy Cubs Deal Aardsma for Cotts

The Chicago Cubs today acquired left-handed pitcher Neal Cotts from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for relief pitcher David Aardsma and minor-league pitcher Carlos Vasquez.

Cotts, 26, led the White Sox and was tied for eighth in the American League with a career-high 70 relief appearances last season. The Lebanon, Ill., native had a strong first half, going 1-2 with a 2.95 ERA (12 ER/36.2 IP). Cotts posted a 2.77 road ERA (8 ER/26.0 IP) and limited first batters faced to a .215 average (14-for-65), while his 14 holds ranked second on the club.

The lefty enjoyed a breakout 2005 season in which he went 4-0 with a 1.94 ERA (13 ER/60.1 IP) in 69 relief outings, holding the opponent scoreless on 58 occasions. He averaged 8.7 strikeouts per 9.0 innings that season and was 2-0 with a 0.70 ERA (2 ER/25.2 IP) after the All-Star break. In the postseason, Cotts was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA (0 ER/2.1 IP) with two holds in six appearances. He earned the win in the second game of the World Series against Houston, retiring the only batter he faced (Mike Lamb).

Cotts, who was originally selected in the second round by Oakland in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, is 10-7 with a 4.52 ERA (97 ER/193.0 IP) in 199 career games (five starts). He made his Major League debut with the White Sox in 2003, making four starts that season.

Aardsma, 24, posted a 3-0 record with a 4.08 ERA (24 ER/53.0 IP) in 45 relief appearances for the Cubs last season. The right-hander also pitched with San Francisco in 2004, and owns a 4-0 career record with a 4.52 ERA (32 ER/63.2 IP).

Vasquez, a 23-year-old left-handed pitcher, was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Cubs in 2000. He has spent his entire career within the Cubs organization, most recently going 6-5 with three saves and a 2.75 ERA (26 ER/85.0 IP) in 54 relief appearances between Single-A Daytona and Double-A West Tenn in 2006.

This marks the first trade between the two Chicago franchises since the Cubs acquired pitcher Matt Karchner in exchange for minor league pitcher Jon Garland on July 29, 1998.

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