Winter Meetings Preview: Atlanta Braves

Frank WrenThe Atlanta Braves are having a quiet off-season to the dismay of the fan-base. Many Atlanta fans have asked me on Twitter: Why haven’t the Braves countered to the Doug Fister trade to Washington? When will the Braves make that blockbuster trade everyone is waiting for?

First of all, that question can be answered in a number of ways:

1. The Braves didn’t sign B.J. Upton until November 29 of last year.

2. Justin Upton wasn’t acquired from the Diamondbacks until January 24, basically three weeks until pitchers and catchers reported for spring training. One of the Braves’ M.V.P.’s was involved in that trade too, Chris Johnson.

3. It’s not like General Manager Frank Wren was sitting at his desk playing Candy Crush on his phone the entire off-season even it’s an addicting game.

When it comes to the Braves overall roster this winter, there isn’t a blockbuster deal to envision.

Atlanta is covered in the outfielder with both Upton’s and Jason Heyward. The infield is covered with All-Star and M.V.P. candidate Freddie Freeman. Dan Uggla, even with his struggles, could bounce back next year and if not, Ramiro Pena should contribute at that second base. The great Andrelton Simmons is at shortstop, Johnson manning  third and Evan Gattis likely taking over for Brian McCann.

On the pitching side of the coin, the rotation consists of:  Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, Brandon Beachy as the top four. Alex Wood, David Hale, J.R. Graham and Sean Gilmartin among others could get an opportunity for the fifth spot in spring training.

Expect the Braves to attempt their luck at adding a veteran starter during the Winter Meetings.  Guys like Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are not coming to Atlanta based on their desired contracts.

Expect veterans like Roy Halladay, John Lannan, Scott Baker and maybe a Jake Westbrook to be better options for Atlanta as they can be had fairly cheaper due to age or injury history.

As far as acquiring a David Price or a Jeff Samardzija, it’s a long shot at best. Both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Chicago Cubs respectively are going to request a lot in return for their Ace. While Atlanta does have the wherewithal in their minor league system to acquire an ace-caliber pitcher, it doesn’t mean they automatically execute a trade.

Atlanta could also look to add an extra arm in the bullpen to replace free-agent Eric O’Flaherty. While the southpaw missed the majority of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, he’s been one of the most dominant relievers throughout the big leagues the last five years. Since joining the Braves back in 2009, he’s compiled a dominant 1.99 ERA in 295 appearances.

The Braves will surely need to add at least one person to attempt to replace some of O’Flaherty’s production. Atlanta is very good about building from within, but Atlanta could bring in someone to alleviate the loss of O’Flaherty assuming he goes elsewhere.

The expectation for the Braves at the Winter Meetings shouldn’t be very high. It’s not always about the big moves that make your team succeed (i.e. B.J.) but the Pena signing and many other small ones will allow the Braves to go a long way for next year.

The message is hold tight Braves fans and don’t panic if a blockbuster move isn’t made by Wren. It doesn’t mean the ship is sinking.

Follow OPSN’s Andrew Vigliotti on Twitter for more updates @Andrew_Vig

1 Comment

I like your overview of things, Mr Vigliotti. I am a little concerned that the braves haven’t done a lot, But as you said other than looking for a trade or something for Uggla and adding a veteran pitcher the team is not in bad shape. My wondering is back when the braves were good we had guys like Maddux, Smoltz, Glavine, and others. Now I do know we also had some extra money to spend with turner, but to go the distance we are going to need some veteran guys. I realize that a lot is expected for David Price, but why should we not be willing to give up some minor league pieces, when the braves have Beachy, Teheran, Minor, and Medlen, and others who are ready now. If you do the deal for Price then the time that you have until his contract runs out you add some pitchers or prospects back. I understand that they are asking a lot for him, but where are all the pitching prospects going to play. we are full now and the longer we wait they lose their value. Example: I think 2 years ago the braves wanted Adam Jones, the O’s wanted Prado, Jurjens, and Delgado, and the braves didn’t want to let go of Delgado and were are those players now, not in Atlanta. I am pleased that we got Justin Upton, B j, still not sure yet. Sorry to ramble, I am a long time braves fan and it frustrates me when you tell some one how good the braves are doing, they say doesn’t matter they will choke in the first round of playoffs. And it is hard to disagree, because we seem to always balk at the deal that would make us better.

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