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NL Central roundup: Brewers trade Yovani Gallardo to Rangers, Cubs acquire Dexter Fowler

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Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers are trading Yovani Gallardo out of the division, with infielder Luis Sardinas and pitchers Corey Knebel and Marcos Diplan heading to Milwaukee. Gallardo would have been eligible for free agency after the season anyway, and he isn't as good as he once was. But there can't be any Pirates fans sad to see him go -- he posted a 2.55 ERA in 155 1/3 career innings against the Bucs, so his career performance against Pittsburgh essentially amounts to an ace-caliber season.

This offseason being the way it is, though, we can't assume we know what this means yet. Teams don't rebuild anymore, and a trade of one veteran might just be a prelude to a trade for another. There's already been speculation that the Brewers might be gearing up to trade for Wisconsin native Jordan Zimmermann, who's as expendable as a pitcher of his caliber can possibly be after the Nationals agreed to terms with Max Scherzer. Milwaukee might be able to extend Zimmermann, too, given that they'll have not only Gallardo but also Aramis Ramirez, Kyle Lohse and other players eligible to be off the payroll in 2016. If the Brewers do effectively exchange Gallardo for Zimmermann, they're basically just trading one extremely annoying starting pitcher for one who might turn out to be even more annoying. Stay tuned.

Speaking of the Pirates' opponents becoming more annoying, the Cubs today traded Luis Valbuena and Dan Straily to the Astros for Dexter Fowler. This isn't a headline-grabbing move, but it's one that helps the 2015 Cubs look much more like a baseball team than a collection of really interesting parts. The Cubs have addressed a weak spot in the outfield, freed Arismendy Alcantara to play a bunch of different positions, and cleared third base for Kris Bryant all in one fell swoop. And they didn't give up anyone they'll miss -- Valbuena is a good player, but the Cubs have a million talented infielders. Getting a pesky leadoff type in Fowler is a nice move for them.