Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Day one of the Winter Meetings in Orlando and no action on the Braves' front – at least not yet.
The Braves have been surprised that the one name that keeps coming up in trade talks is first baseman Adam LaRoche. More than a handful of teams have asked about the lefty hitting LaRoche, who had a career season in 2006. LaRoche hit .285 last season with 32 home runs and 90 RBI.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have expressed significant interest in LaRoche. The Braves and Angels are expected to meet Tuesday for trade discussions. The Angels are dangling right-handed starter Ervin Santana for a big bat. But the Braves are interested in expanded the discussions. They have interest in outfielder Chone Figgans, first baseman Casey Kotchman, and reliever Scot Shields.
The Pirates have also shown interest again in LaRoche. They expressed interest a few weeks ago at the General Manager's meetings. Pittsburgh has several interesting relievers, but they have been reluctant to include closer Mike Gonzalez in a deal. There have been rumors the Pirates could offer Paul Maholm in a trade, which could satisfy the Braves desire for a young starting pitcher.
The Giants and Devil Rays are two other teams that have some interest in LaRoche.
As for Tim Hudson, the interest in him is not as significant. However, he has been involved in trade discussions with the Orioles and could be included in the talks with Anaheim. Most teams want the Braves to give Hudson away, but the team is not interested in that. The Braves want significant pieces in return for Tim Hudson.
The Braves are really pushing for a deal with Baltimore. They would love to send Hudson to the Orioles for second baseman Brian Roberts. More than likely, there would be some additional pitching involved in the deal, and there's a chance Marcus Giles could be dangled back to the Orioles to replace Roberts at second base.
Giles will more than likely be traded before the end of the meetings on Thursday. Talks with the Padres have cooled a bit. San Diego knows the Braves want Scott Linebrink in return, but the Padres have postured to the point where the Braves have to look around elsewhere. They still believe Giles will be traded before the end of the meetings.
No real talk about Andruw Jones here at the meetings. It seems understood that other teams know of the situation, and the Braves would be interested in at least listening to any proposal.
So Tuesday could be an interesting day. GM John Schuerholz was tied up in MLB meetings for most of the day. The Braves plan to meet tonight and again in the morning before having several trade meetings.
It looks like a trade of Adam LaRoche is a real possibility. The Braves feel they may have to take advantage of the significant interest in him at the meetings. If they are able to build a trade around LaRoche and Santana, and also possibly include Figgans, they may pull the trigger.
Figgans, a native Georgian who stole 178 bases the last three seasons with the Orioles, could fit in as the leadoff hitter and in left field. Kotchman could be important since he would give the Braves insurance for Scott Thorman, who would likely replace LaRoche as Atlanta's starting first baseman.
But if the Braves trade Giles and LaRoche, would they trust two rookies (assuming Martin Prado would replace Giles) on the right side of the infield? Well, that's where the Baltimore trade could become very important. If the Braves got Brian Roberts, they would have another speedy switch-hitter at the top of their lineup. Roberts has stolen 115 bases over the past four seasons.
If the Braves could swindle another arm in the Baltimore deal, then they could perhaps add youth to the pitching staff and switch LaRoche and Giles for Thorman/Kotchman and Roberts. Plus, the Braves would probably immediately move switch-hitting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to first base.
In other news, the Braves are bringing Jeff Bennett back again. Bennett was signed last winter as a free agent, but the Braves voided the deal after being concerned with his ailing elbow. Bennett pitched in the big leagues with Milwaukee in 2004. He was signed to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
The Braves released the following minor leaguers: John Alexander, Devin Anderson, Jorge Casso, Marcus Covington, Tony De La Cruz, Trevion Griffin, Donavon Hendricks, Jeff Katz, Rubi Koko, Michael Marbry, Rudy Quinonez, Pedro Rayo, Deivis Rivadeneira, Ralph Roberts, Manny Rodriguez, Jose Santos, Ovandy Suero, Glenn Tucker, and Kyle Warren.
We'll have continuing coverage from the Winter Meetings in Orlando. I'll be in the chat room frequently through the end of the meetings on Thursday.
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Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can also be heard on the Atlanta Braves Radio Network. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.