Braves Prepare For Spring Training, Announce Non-Roster Invitees

Follow along with the Atlanta Braves offseason, which has already seen some major comings and goings.

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63 Total Updates since September 30, 2011
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Atlanta Braves Agree To One-Year Deal With Peter Moylan

Peter Moylan has been a fan-favorite with the Atlanta Braves since emerging in 2006 and is supposed to be one of the better clubhouse guys in baseball. Many believed the Australian sidearmer would not return to baseball in 2012 after undergoing surgeries on both his back and throwing arm in the last 12 months, but he has reportedly made a miraculous recovery and will be ready to go in a few short weeks.

Moylan has received a Minor League contract with an invite to Spring Training, which is fairly common for players coming off a major surgery. The deal will be worth $1 million dollars, with incentives and bonuses for the time he spends in Atlanta, according to David O'Brien of the AJC.

There really isn't any downside to bringing back Moylan, especially with the contract not being very lucrative. The Braves declined to offer arbitration earlier in the offseason and said multiple times they would like to re-sign the sidearmer if the price was right.

Moylan will have to battle for a bullpen job and will see some tough competition. Guys like Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty, Cristhian Martinez and Kris Medlen have all-but-guaranteed themselves a job and there will only be one or two roster spots up for grabs.

For more on the Braves, head on over to Talking Chop.

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MLB Offseason News: Atlanta Braves Avoid Arbitration With Michael Bourn, Jair Jurrjens

The Atlanta Braves have avoided arbitration with star center fielder Michael Bourn, signing the 30-year old to a one-year deal worth $6,845,000 million. This was the final year Bourn would be eligible for arbitration and will see a pay raise of $2.5 million from last year. He will become a free agent once the 2012 season ends.

The club has also agreed to pay Jair Jurrjens $5.5 million dollars in 2012 after reaching an agreement with the starting pitcher on Tuesday afternoon. This number is substantially lower than what many felt he would be paid after a huge first half, but injury concerns and regression in the final two months put a damper on Jurrjens' season.

Along with Martin Prado and Eric O'Flaherty, the Braves have now come to an agreement with each of their arbitration eligible players. The four will earn a combined $15 million in the upcoming season.

With these negotiations out of the way, look for Frank Wren to look at any and all options to acquire a corner outfielder and/or a utility player for the infield.

For more on the Braves, head on over to Talking Chop.

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Braves Announce Signing Of Jack Wilson To One-Year Contract

The Atlanta Braves officially announced today that they signed infielder Jack Wilson to a one-year contract for the 2012 season.

Atlanta #Braves announced today that they have agreed to terms with free-agent IF Jack Wilson on a one-year contract for the 2012 season 33 minutes ago via Twitter for iPhone · powered by @socialditto

Wilson played with two teams in 2011. He started the season with the Seattle Mariners, where he had been since 2009, and was traded to the Braves in August. For Atlanta, Wilson played in 17 games, had nine hits, three runs and had a batting average of .220. He played the majority of his games at short stop with a few at third base and has a career fielding percentage of .978.

For more updates on the Braves, check out Talking Chop.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Atlanta Braves, Frank Wren Have No Money To Spend

The Atlanta Braves have areas of their ball club that they would like to improve upon, but financial restrictions have reportedly given GM Frank Wren very little money to work with. Many of those in Braves Country (myself included) have grown confused and even frustrated with a lack of moves this offseason, although it sounds like there's very little that can be done, even with the departure of Derek Lowe, Nate McLouth, Alex Gonzalez, Kenshin Kawakami and others.

Braves beat writer David O'Brien recently tried to explain why the team is strapped for cash. It's a thorough look at the budget; here are a few of the highlights.

  • Nate McLouth's salary will be replaced by Michael Bourn, who will earn approximately $7 million dollars through arbitration. That's essentially a wash when you consider the buyout of McLouth's contract of $7 million and the contract buyout of $1.2 million.
  • The $12 million that was opened up from Lowe and Kawakami quickly evaporated with Brian McCann and Dan Uggla receiving hefty raises in 2012. Uggla sees his annual salary rise to $13.5 million after earning just over nine million last year, while McCann bumps up nearly five million to $11.5 million because of contract incentives.
  • The money freed up from losing Scott Linebrink, George Sherrill and Peter Moylan combined to be around $5 million, but the team has to account for hefty arbitration raises to Eric O'Flaherty, Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens. Assuming both Prado and Jurrjens are with the team next Spring, that essentially wipes out the $5 million from the three relievers.
  • Finally, because of their production on the field, Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward and Craig Kimbrel can all expect to earn a little more than they usually would with their rookie contract. Even if this only amounts to half a million or so, it's still a considerable amount with the organization so strapped for cash.

Take into consideration all of the raises that various players will earn in 2012 and the team might have somewhere around $5 million dollars to spend, and that's if Liberty Media stays true to their word of a slightly higher budget.

Until either Prado or Jurrjens get dealt, it's tough to imagine the Braves doing much of anything. It's not that Frank Wren does not want to improve his team; it's that he simply cannot do so without any money to spend.

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Atlanta Braves Rumors: Reds Interested In Jair Jurrjens, Rockies Discussing Martin Prado

With the first day of the 2011 Winter Meetings nearing a close, Braves and Reds fans got an interesting bit of news to chew on for the next few hours. While many unnamed teams have been linked to Jair Jurrjens in recent weeks, we seldom have learned the identity of any of those clubs. That changed on Monday evening, according to this tweet from SI's Jon Heyman:

#reds very interested in jair jurrjens. seek No. 2 starter. 10 teams involved.

Heyman has a very close connection with sports agent Scott Boras, who just happens to represent Jurrjens, though no other players were specifically mentioned as potential trade chips on either side.

On paper, the Braves and Reds match up well. Cincinnati is searching for a starting pitcher (or three), while Atlanta is looking to upgrade offensively by using their abundance of starting pitchers as a selling point.

As for the players that could potentially come to Atlanta, just a few of the names fans can expect to hear in the coming days could be Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier, Billy Hamilton and even Drew Stubbs, who currently starts for the Reds. There have been no reports from either side confirming the interest in Jurrjens, but Heyman typically has strong sources. 

Rockies, Braves discuss Prado:

The Colorado Rockies have seemingly been interested in Martin Prado since the offseason began. We received word of these talks continuing on Monday, this time from Troy Renck:

#Rockies talked to Braves this morning. Will wait to see if Braves come back to them regarding Prado.

As for discussions with Colorado go, the Braves could be interested in players currently in the Major Leagues and those remaining in the farm system. Seth Smith could be a fit in left field, although he would need a platoon partner and isn't exactly the 'big bat' the team is supposedly searching for. Dexter Fowler could be a long-term fit in center field, but the Rox have not given any indication they are willing to deal him.

Nolan Arenado, a highly-regarded third baseman in the Minor Leagues, would be the immediate replacement for Chipper Jones, but Colorado is unlikely to include him in any deal. Outfielder Tim Wheeler or Charlie Blackmon could also be intriguing to Frank Wren, although both come with serious question marks surrounding their approach at the plate.

The hot stove is heating up, folks. Stay tuned.

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Atlanta Braves Rumors: What To Expect At 2011 Winter Meetings

What will the Braves do at shortstop? What about adding a corner outfielder? Could Prado or Jurrjens be dealt this week? Some thoughts on these issues and more.

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Braves Offseason News: Tim Hudson Undergoes Surgery For Herniated Disk

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson underwent successful surgery on Monday to repair a herniated disk in his back. While his recovery and progression will be closely monitored throughout the rest of the offseason, the team expects Hudson to be ready for the start of Spring Training.

From the official release out of Atlanta:

Atlanta Braves right-handed pitcher Tim Hudson underwent successful surgery today to repair a herniated disc in his back. The procedure was performed by Dr. Steven Wray at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, Ga. The injury, which had been bothersome for Hudson over the last two seasons, became progressively worse during his off-season workouts.

Hudson missed a start in May because of a back issue and this would appear to be the reason why. Anyone who has ever dealt with a back issue can tell you the injury has a knack for lingering and not responding to treatment, and it is a minor miracle Hudson made it through the entire season without hitting the disabled list.

The Braves starting rotation continues to be dinged up and it may convince Frank Wren to hold onto his pitchers this offseason. With the uncertainty of Tommy Hanson's shoulder, Jair Jurrjens' knee and Hudson's back, Atlanta hasn't exactly had a clean bill of health in the last year.

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Atlanta Braves Decline Arbitration On Alex Gonzalez

The Atlanta Braves made a pretty significant move on Wednesday morning, declining the opportunity to offer arbitration to free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez. The 36-year old Gonzalez has played with the Braves since mid-2010 and played stellar defense throughout his tenure.

The reason for declining arbitration is this: if Gonzalez were to accept it, Atlanta would be on the hook for the $3-5 million he would likely earn next season. This must have been more than the franchise envisioned spending on a shortstop next year, especially with there being talk of Tyler Pastornicky taking over the reins as early as Opening Day 2012.

This move likely signifies the end of the Gonzalez in Atlanta. He came over in the midst of a career-year, and while he wasn't able to continue his stellar play from Toronto, he still provided value to the team both on the field and in the clubhouse. There is still a chance he re-signs for cheap, but it would have to be for a figure much less than the $3 million the front office just turned down. He'll get a better offer elsewhere.

In my opinion, it looks like the Braves will now look for a veteran shortstop (Jack Wilson, maybe?) who will come cheap. This also indicates to me that Tyler Pastornicky has a good chance of being the starting shortstop sooner rather than later.

For more on the Braves, check out Talking Chop.

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Craig Kimbrel Wins NL Rookie Of The Year; Just How Good Was The Braves Closer?

Craig Kimbrel is already among baseball's elite relief pitchers at the age of just 23.

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Braves Trade Rumors: Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens Could Be Dealt

Just a few days after dealing Derek Lowe to the Indians, Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren publicly stated the organization could deal Martin Prado or Jair Jurrjens if the correct deal comes along. MLB.com's Mark Bowman was the first to report the story.

There are multiple incentives for Wren should he be able to find a suitor for either player. Not only would it clear up some room in the budget for a new shortstop or left fielder -- Prado and Jurrjens will earn approximately $5 million dollars a piece in 2012 -- but it could also fetch highly touted prospects. 

The Kansas City Royals are a team rumored to be very interested in Jurrjens and Prado. Dayton Moore, the current GM of the Royals, worked in Atlanta's front office for multiple years under John Schuerholz and has brought back many former Braves to Kansas City. Jeff Francoeur, Kyle Davies and Bruce Chen are some of these players, and there are many others as well.

Dealing Prado or Jurrjens would not come without risk. If Prado is dealt, the team has an immediate void at third base when Chipper Jones inevitably goes down with an injury. It also means the Braves would need to find an everyday left fielder.

If Jurrjens is dealt, the team loses yet another candidate for the starting rotation. While Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado could fill in to replace him, both are unproven and Fredi Gonzalez may not feel comfortable with the lack of depth, especially if Tommy Hanson continues to be bothered by an injured shoulder.

Nothing is eminent, but it appears Wren is aggressively looking around the market. Do not be surprised if Martin Prado or Jair Jurrjens are not members of the Atlanta Braves in 2012.

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Atlanta Braves Trade Derek Lowe To Cleveland Indians; What Does This Mean?

Frank Wren is a man on a mission.

In a bit of shocking news on Monday morning, the Atlanta Braves traded away much-maligned "ace" Derek Lowe to the Cleveland Indians for prospect Chris Jones. Lowe was set to earn $15 million dollars in the final year of his contract and the Braves received $5 million in cash considerations.

This may not seem like a lot, but with a tight budget, it could do a lot for Atlanta in their offseason spending plans. The team also announced they exercised Eric Hinske's option for 2012 on Monday morning.

Lowe's tenure in Atlanta will be remembered widely as a failure. He had moments of brilliance -- his first start in 2009 against the Phillies and the playoff run in 2010 come to mind -- but it was his inconsistency that continually drew the ire of Braves Country.

Wren had stated earlier this offseason that Lowe was not a candidate for the starting rotation and would either be traded or sent to the bullpen. The GM went with the first option and got a decent return for the 39-year old.

Chris Jones is a left-handed pitcher who was a 15th round pick in the 2007 draft. He is not a great prospect nor does he project to be a starting pitcher, but he could be a solid left landed option out of the bullpen in a few short years. 

This trade is simply about the money. Wren did a nice job finding an early suitor for Lowe, and while eating $10 million dollars of the contract next year will not be fun, it's a lot better than the alternative. No one wanted another situation similar to the one Atlanta had with Kenshin Kawakami this past season.

As for what this means for next year's ball club, as previously stated, it gives Wren a little more flexibility in his search for a shortstop, outfielder, or any other player the team pursues in the next few months. It also opens a spot on the 25-man roster for next year; most likely one in the bullpen.

Good move, Braves. Let's keep it up.

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Derek Lowe Traded By Braves To Indians, According To Report

Atlanta sends the struggling starting pitcher to Cleveland as the hot stove season begins.

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Atlanta Braves Hire Greg Walker, Let's Take A Look At Our New Hitting Coach

The Atlanta Braves were in the market for a hitting coach just a few weeks before finally selecting their candidate. After reportedly interviewing multiple coaches and focusing on someone who had the best plan to help Jason Heyward at the plate, the team chose Greg Walker.

Additionally, the team hired Scott Fletcher as an assistant hitting coach who will primarily focus on video scouting. He has spent his last few seasons with the Colorado Rockies organization and the Braves created a new position just for him.

Walker, who makes his home in Douglas, Ga., acted as the Chicago White Sox's hitting coach for 8-1/2 seasons. While some veterans such as Paul Konerko have credited him for their success, many young players, including Gordon Beckham, have publicly criticized Walker and his inability to help them with their swing. Adam Dunn also had the worst year of his career under Walker.

David O'Brien also tweeted this:

Just spoke with ex-#Braves catching prospect Tyler Flowers, who's w/ White Sox now. Praised Walker, said thinks he'll work great w/ Heyward.

Along with Walker, the Braves also hired Fletcher to work with hitters and monitor their video scouting department. O'Brien also had this information regarding the video coordinator:

New #Braves asst. hitting coach Scott Fletcher also lives in area, has seen Heyward play since 12. Wren said didn't know that beforehand

Personally, I'm not a fan of the hiring of Walker, though I do like the addition of Fletcher. The White Sox did win a championship with Walker serving as the hitting coach, but the team continually underperformed as a whole and his unproven track record with young hitters in concerning.

This all being said, there is no true way to judge a coach until Spring Training and the games begin. Welcome to Atlanta, Greg Walker, please fix Jason Heyward and our offense.

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Greg Walker Hired As Atlanta Braves Hitting Coach, According To Report

The Atlanta Braves have reportedly concluded their search for a new hitting coach, according to Mark Bowman. The beat writer says the team will introduce Greg Walker Friday afternoon. The former Chicago White Sox coach is the only interviewee whose name has been reported throughout the process, as far as we're aware.

Confirmed Greg Walker will be announced as #Braves new hitting coach this afternoon.
Oct 21 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

Walker produced a respectable stat line as a major league hitter in his day:

Walker played 9 seasons in the majors (8 with White Sox, 1 with Baltimore) with a .260 career batting average and 113 home runs. In 1987, Walker posted a career high in home runs (27) and RBIs (94) with Chicago.    

And our own Talking Chop commented on the potential hire's convenient name:

Also, I know I've said that the Braves need to hire a hitting coach who will teach more patience at the plate, but simply going after someone named Walker doesn't necessarily guarantee a new approach. Of course, it's better than someone named Hack Wilson or Infield-Pop-Out Johnson.    

For more Braves, visit Braves blog Talking Chop. For more MLB, visit Baseball Nation.

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Atlanta Braves To Interview Greg Walker For Hitting Coach Vacancy, According To Report

The Atlanta Braves have taken the first step in replacing former hitting coach Larry Parrish, who was notified that he will not be brought back to the club in 2012. ESPN's Bruce Levine reports that former White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker has interviewed for the Braves position:

Former Chicago White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker will interview for vacancies in the same role with the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres during the next week, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Walker played 9 seasons in the majors (8 with White Sox, 1 with Baltimore) with a .260 career batting average and 113 home runs. In 1987, Walker posted a career high in home runs (27) and RBIs (94) with Chicago.

SB Nation's Braves Blog Talking Chop provided some commentary on Walker's interview:

Also, I know I've said that the Braves need to hire a hitting coach who will teach more patience at the plate, but simply going after someone named Walker doesn't necessarily guarantee a new approach. Of course, it's better than someone named Hack Wilson or Infield-Pop-Out Johnson.

Walker was born and raised in Douglas, Georgia.

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