ATLANTA (AP) -Looking to land a possible replacement for Andruw Jones, the Atlanta Braves traded reliever Oscar Villarreal to the Houston Astros for speedy outfielder Josh Anderson on Friday.
Villarreal went 2-2 with one save and a 4.24 ERA in 51 games for the Braves this season. The right-hander turns 26 next week.
Atlanta decided against trying to re-sign Jones, who filed for free agency after spending more a decade as the team's center fielder. The 25-year-old Anderson could be Jones' replacement, along with holding down the leadoff spot in the batting order.
This past season, Anderson hit .358 in 67 at-bats for Houston after stealing 41 bases at Triple-A Round Rock.
``We felt like we had depth in the bullpen,'' Braves general manager Frank Wren said. ``And we really like Josh. We feel like he has the ability to play center field at the major league level.''
Villarreal is 23-12 with a 3.71 ERA in two years with Atlanta and three seasons with Arizona. In 2003, he set an NL rookie record by pitching in 86 games for the Diamondbacks.
``Oscar Villarreal gives us another experienced, durable arm for the bullpen,'' Astros general manager Ed Wade said. ``He has the ability to pitch late in a game, throw multiple innings and pitch back-to-back days.''
Anderson was MVP of the Double-A Texas League All-Star game in 2006. He led that league in stolen bases for two years, and topped all of minor league baseball with 78 steals in 2005.
``He has that ability to get on base,'' Wren said, though he stressed that the Braves weren't locking down Anderson as their next center fielder. ``If there's someone else out there that we feel is a good fit for our ballclub, we'll do that, too.''
The Astros also signed outfielder Yordany Ramirez, formerly of the San Diego organization.
The 23-year-old Ramirez hit .269 with four home runs and 43 RBIs for Class A Lake Elsinore. He played 30 games for Triple-A Portland, hitting .315 with four home runs and 18 RBIs.
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