Let the wheeling and dealing begin

Braves assistant GM John Coppolella may be very busy the next 10 days with the trade deadline approaching.

Jim Johnson. A.J. Pierzynski. Chris Johnson. Juan Uribe. Jonny Gomes. Cameron Maybin. Yes, even Kelly Johnson.

Trade them. Trade them all.

So, it’s time for the front office to do what they’ve proven they can do well. It’s time for them to be active and aggressive and creative. It’s time for a mass exodus. It’s time for trades galore.

I’m drinking the Kool-Aid for what this Braves front office has done so far. I love pitching. You can never, and I mean never have enough pitching. Never. Just when you think you have enough, you need more. The front office obviously agrees with me, and it’s the right move.

Some of you will say, “Yeah, but it’s time to get some position players.” I understand that. I won’t cry if there are a few sprinkled in. But I would still stress pitchers in these deadline deals.

Yes, the Braves do need position players. The farm system is pitching-heavy. There are position player prospects, but are there any that measure up to the prospect status that, for example, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman were at five, six years ago? Probably not.

Ozzie Albies is close to that, but he’s only 18 and is at least two years away. He could be ready in 2018, if not a bit sooner. He’s special. There are others that are good prospects, like Mallex Smith, Jose Peraza and Braxton Davidson just to name a couple. But it’s unclear just how special those guys may be in the future.

Let’s not forget that the Braves focused on position players with the international signings of Derian Cruz and Cristian Pache. You might have heard the rumors about the elite position players they might sign next summer. It’s not like they are neglecting position player prospects. They are just focusing on pitchers in the trades.

And that’s what they should continue to do. Focus on the pitchers and then at the end of the season see where you are with the depth and then make the decisions of which pitchers to keep and which pitchers to possibly offer in trades for… position players.

It’s coming. At some point, the Braves will trade pitching for position players. Let that happen this winter. Let’s first see them accumulate arms and then know how deep the organization is before decision which ones to trade.

But first, the team must be aggressive in the deadline trades. Those seven players need to be traded. Kelly Johnson is one of my favorite players. He’s having a great season. But trade him for something and then bring him back this winter. Kelly lives in Atlanta, and he would likely come back, even if he was traded to a contender now.

Chris Johnson obviously needs to go. Get him out of there. He doesn’t want to be there. They don’t want him there. Thank you Frank Wren for an idiotic contract. But look, even if the Braves have to pay part of it, they need to get rid of him pronto.

There was a rumor Tuesday about Juan Uribe, as Jon Heyman reported the Mets, Giants, Nationals and Pirates had some interest. Heyman said the Braves wanted a “mid-range prospect” if the team will pay the remainder of Uribe’s contract for this season. He also intimated the Braves might get a better prospect if they pay the rest of that money.

And that’s exactly what they should do – pay the money to get a better prospect. The Braves have invested in prospects, like they did with Arizona when they got Touki Toussaint. For all of these veterans, if the Braves need to assume part of the money to get better prospects, they should do it.

Why save the money now? They would already be paying it if the players remained on the team. Get better prospects than fringe guys and keep adding talent. If it costs a million bucks to get a better prospect, the Braves should do it with all of these veterans.

There has been great discussion in the fan base about whether to trade Cameron Maybin. I’m split on it, and it would likely simply depend on what was offered. I like Maybin a great deal, but if a team made a solid offer of two very good prospects, I’d take it.

Why? Well, if Maybin and Chris Johnson are traded, the Braves will save more money. It looks like they will already have around $50 million coming off the books after this season. That would be even more if Maybin and Johnson were traded.

Just imagine the financial flexibility the team could have if that much money is available. They could add a free agent starting pitcher (Zack Greinke or David Price) or find position players that fit. And yes, I am firmly behind the Braves going after Greinke or Price this offseason. They would be a perfect veteran to lead the young rotation moving forward. With all that money coming off the books, they could make that type of investment.

What else would they invest in if they had that much money to spend? Well, if they added someone like those two, they could trade one of their existing pitchers for…. a third baseman, or a left fielder or perhaps a catcher if they find that necessary.

But they first need to trade all the veterans they can to continue to accumulate talent. Keep getting pitchers. Pay part of those salaries if you have to Braves. Do what you have to do to continue getting young arms so that at the end of the year people will repeatedly say, “What in the world are the Braves going to do with all of these pitchers?”

Well, they’ll find something to do with them!

John Hart is the main man in the front office, while assistant GM John Coppolella has done all the great 'dirty' work to orchestrate the deals that have been made so far. Credit both with reshaping this franchise in such a short period of time. Coppolella is undoubtedly laying the ground work for more trades, in what could be an active time in the front office.

There is little doubt that Hart is the mentor, while Coppolella is preparing to be Atlanta's general manager in the near future. Hart has done this before, as several others under his wing have gone on to lead baseball organizations. There is complete confidence in the Braves' offices that the duo has a unique partnership that is working to create something very special, particularly compared to what was in place before.

Most believe Coppolella, or 'Coppy' as he is called, is already performing most of the GM duties. Many in the front office already give Coppolella the credit for the number of deals that have been made so far. The relationship between Hart and Coppolella has worked well, but their work is far from done.

Just think of how aggressive they've been up to this point. That makes you know it’s going to be a fun 10 days. Let the dealing begin!

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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