Winter Meetings Preview: Atlanta Braves
The 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.
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