Braves facing significant roster turnover

Whether it's John Hart or someone else, the new Atlanta general manager will have a lot of work to do this winter.

The Braves are facing potential significant turnover in the roster for 2015. The team will have a new general manager, and history shows us that a new man in charge likes to make changes.

Let’s look at how the last three GM changes have resulted in dramatic turnover for the first year of the new era.

When Frank Wren took over for John Schuerholz, he made six trades from the day he got the job in 2007 until opening day 2008:

- Edgar Renteria to Detroit for Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez
- Oscar Villarreal to Houston for Josh Anderson
- Jose Ascanio to Chicago Cubs for Omar Infante and Will Ohman
- Joey Devine and Jamie Richmond to Oakland for Mark Kotsay
- Chase Fontaine and Willy Aybar to Tampa Bay for Jeff Ridgway
- Tyler Yates to Pittsburgh for Todd Redmond

Wren also signed Tom Glavine as a free agent and selected Chris Resop off waivers. So that’s six trades and one free agent signing in Wren’s first offseason in charge.

When Schuerholz took over for Bobby Cox in October, 1990, he had was very busy offseason:

Schuerholz signed Terry Pendleton, Sid Bream, Rafael Belliard, Jerry Willard, Mike Heath, Doug Sisk, Juan Berenguer, Deion Sanders and Glenn Wilson as free agents. His biggest trade was in spring training, when on April 1 he sent two minor leaguers to Montreal for Otis Nixon.

Seven of those newly acquired players played huge roles in Atlanta’s trip from worst to first in 1991.

Cox replaced John Mullen as GM in October, 1985. He got to work as well reconstructing the roster:

- Acquired Billy Sample from the Yankees for Miguel Sosa
- Acquired Ozzie Virgil, Jr. and Pete Smith from the Phillies for Steve Bedrosian and Milt Thompson
- Signed David Palmer as a free agent
- Signed Omar Moreno as a free agent
- Acquired Ted Simmons from the Brewers for Rick Cerone and two minor leaguers

Cox also released four veterans at the end of spring training in 1986. Len Barker, Rick Camp, Terry Forster and Pascual Perez were all let go and pretty much replaced by younger players. So there was a significant change in the roster when Chuck Tanner managed his first game that season.

What will this offseason be like for the new general manager? Well, of course, that new guy must be selected first, but after he gets settled into the office there will be plenty of work to do.

The Braves have several players eligible for free agency:
- Ervin Santana (made $14.1 million in 2014)
- Gavin Floyd ($4 million)
- Ryan Doumit ($3.5 million)
- Emilio Bonifacio ($2.5 million)
- Gerald Laird ($1.5 million)
- Aaron Harang ($1 million)

So that’s six players who could leave and truthfully not one is expected back. The Braves could talk with Santana and Harang, just to see what it might cost, but they will probably try to get larger deals elsewhere. Floyd is too much of a risk with his arm injury.

That’s $26.6 million coming off the book, although most of that will be eaten up by increases in the long-term deals to players and arbitration figures.

The main reason next year’s roster could be different is that this year’s roster did not work. It was not a good mix, so you can expect a new GM to want to shake things up a bit.

Freddie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons seem to be the only position players guaranteed to return. Evan Gattis will be traded to an AL team to make room for Christian Bethancourt. The Braves will have a new second baseman next season, as Jose Peraza is expected to take over at some point.

If the Braves can put Chris Johnson in a deal, they will. Johnson’s deal was a mistake by Wren. He might be around through the 2018 season.

Then there’s the outfield. A new GM will try to get rid of B.J. Upton, but who will take him off Atlanta’s hands? Justin Upton and Jason Heyward are a year away from free agency. The Braves may seem how interested those players are to a new long-term deal, but if it doesn’t seem probable, expect the Braves to shop one or both players.

Remember, the Atlanta farm system is not in good shape. So trades may be made to help out for this season and for the future, as well.

Either way, a team that went a disappointing 79-83 is certain to have significant changes. A new general manager will want to put his stamp on the roster, so expect a lot of activity from the Braves this winter. Normal roster turnover from opening day to opening day is usually around 30-35%, but this year it might be closer to 50% turnover if the Braves are able to make moves.

So the team that will take the field on April 6, 2015 against the Marlins in Miami will probably look much different than the group that walked off the field Sunday in Philadelphia.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at Follow Bill at and e-mail him at

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