While the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox continue to battle over Johan Santana, the Atlanta Braves are simply trying to make a few moves to round out its roster here at Baseball's Winter Meetings in Nashville.
General Manager Frank Wren admitted Monday that he has some money to spend in an attempt to fill some critical needs in the bullpen and on the bench. Along with a lefty reliever to compliment closer Rafael Soriano, the Braves are looking into a backup catcher and a reserve infielder that can spell young Yunel Escobar at shortstop.
Last week on The Braves Show Talk Show Wren said that if a top-of-the-rotation starter made sense the Braves would look into a deal. But it would have to be perfect as to what the pitcher made and what the price would be if such a trade were made. That's mainly due to the comfort the Braves now have with its rotation after the additions of Tom Glavine (through free agency) and Jair Jurrjens (from Detroit in the Edgar Renteria trade).
Erik Bedard of Baltimore is one name floating around here at the meetings. He has evidently told the Orioles he is not interested in signing a long-term contract. Bedard was drafted by Baltimore in 1999 when Frank Wren was the GM there and Tony DeMacion was the Scouting Director. DeMacio, who started his career with the Braves (and signed Tom Glavine and Chipper Jones), is now back in the organization as an assistant to Wren.
If the Braves do make a deal this week, expect it to be an addition to the bullpen. With the depth in the rotation, the Braves feel like a move to strengthen the pen will round out the pitching staff. Plus, with Mike Gonzalez not expected back until midseason, the Braves would like another lefty to compliment Royce Ring to start out the season.
The Cubs (Neal Cotts, Scott Eyre, and Will Ohman), Mariners (George Sherrill and Ryan-Rowland Smith), and Pirates (Damaso Marte) have lefty relievers that might be available. Colorado's Brian Fuentes could be had but he is looking to close and is also due almost $5 million dollars this winter in arbitration. The Braves are content with Rafael Soriano as the closer, so Fuentes might not be an option and might be too expensive as an unhappy setup man.
Royals' reliever Jimmy Gobble may be on the Braves' list of potential acquisitions again. Gobble interested the Braves back before the trade deadline in July. Former Braves' executive Dayton Moore has already made a handful of trades with his former team and could be looking to make a deal again. Moore has always liked first baseman Scott Thorman, who is now out of a job with Mark Teixeira on the Braves' roster.
The Braves interest in getting another center fielder is a little quiet right now. They are not against going into spring training with Josh Anderson (acquired a few weeks ago from Houston), Gregor Blanco, and Brent Lillibridge trying to hold off young phenom Jordan Schafer.
If the Braves leave Nashville with a new player, expect it to be a reliever. That seems to be the priority right now as the Braves' work the lobbies here at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.
Please check in the chatroom all day Tuesday with updates from here in Nashville. We'll be working the lobbies as well to find out the latest scoop on the Braves. Plus, join us tonight at 10 pm ET for The Braves Show Talk Show.
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 be heard on 680 the Fan in Atlanta and 105.5 the Fan in Macon. Email Bill at email@example.com.
Braves quiet in day one of the meetings
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