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Michael Bourn may not be a big name, but he is one of the best outfielders in baseball. And now he's with the Braves.
The Atlanta Braves achieved what looks to be a masterpiece of a trade on the day of the MLB trade deadline, acquiring top-notch leadoff man and CF Michael Bourn from the Houston Astros for CF Jordan Schafer and an assortment of prospects, none of which was among the Atlanta system's most majors-ready players.
David O'Brien takes the temperature of the Braves clubhouse, finding players are happy to be acquiring a true leadoff man, but sad to see Schafer go. Jeff Schultz had a word with Schafer, who said he wasn't surprised about the news and was expecting to go to Houston.
Considering Bourn is under contract for 2012, giving the Braves plenty of time to negotiate an extension if they so desire, this move looks even better. This isn't just another Mark Teixeira. Get used to seeing a base-churning player with speed at the top of Atlanta's lineup for the first time since ... since whenever, because he's going to be around for a little while.
For discussion, head to Talking Chop.
Frank Wren finally made his move, and it looks to be a fantastic one. The Atlanta Braves acquired CF Michael Bourn, perhaps the speediest leadoff man in the National League, from the Houston Astros for CF Jordan Schafer, RH Juan Abreu, RH Paul Clemens and LH Brett Oberholtzer. Oh, and the Braves get some cash out of the deal.
I'll let my more baseball-literate brethren weigh in on the nuts and bolts of the trade, but the move is being very well-received. Atlanta didn't have to let go of any of its top pitchers or either of its top pitching prospects, and the need to keep Schafer around would've pretty much been canceled out by Bourn's addition anyway. Hard to see the downside here.
Braves fans are ecstatic, while Al Yellon of Baseball Nation calls the move a "big win for Atlanta." Martin Gandy of Talking Chop says the players given up were essentially "spare parts." Friends of the program David Lee and Ben Duronio are pleased, with the latter calling it a "f------ awesome trade." Our own Scott Coleman is likewise taken to expletives in praise of Wren. I could link to every Braves fan who's f------ geeked about the deal, but we haven't all g------ day.
(Pssst! According to one metric, which of course involves cursing, Bourn might be baseball's best young center fielder.)
More to come on the trade, but it looks like the Braves have won the trade deadline.
For discussion, head to Talking Chop.
Some haven't considered Tampa outfielder as a viable candidate to be acquired by the Atlanta Braves citing a perceived questionable attitude and work ethic. Braves beat writer David O'Brien reports via twitter that Fredi Gonzalez would not be opposed to adding a player with "baggage" saying that the Braves clubhouse usually sorts those kinds of problems out.
Regarding Upton's "baggage", #Braves' Fredi G made it clear he wouldn't care about adding player with "baggage," said he's seen in past when players with questions about attitude or whatever have fit in great in Braves clubhouse, and cited Sheffield as example.
Sheffield is a good example of a player that came to Atlanta with a history and had relatively no problems in Atlanta. Sheffield often referred to former Braves manager Bobby Cox as the best manager he had ever played for.
Gonzalez had a high profile dust up with a player as manager of the Marlins when he benched shortstop Hanley Ramirez for not hustling in a game. Ramirez ripped Gonzalez publicly and the situation never did completely go away and may have factored into Gonzalez's departure from the club.
The Atlanta Braves need to trade for an outfielder with a bat. They needed to do this even before Nate McLouth hit the disabled list. You know this, I know this because everyone tells me this and Frank Wren openly acknowledges this.
It looked for a while like Michael Bourn would join Hunter Pence and Carlos Beltran in being priced just a bit too high for Atlanta to make a move. But Ken Rosenthal reported the Braves are "getting more involved" in trying to land Bourn.
Since the Chicago White Sox are reportedly going to hang onto Carlos Quentin, who did draw Atlanta's interest, this leaves us with Bourn, Coco Crisp, Marlon Byrd, Ryan Ludwick, Josh Willingham, Denard Span and B.J. Upton as primary trade targets.
Span's services would reportedly cost "big-league ready players."
Keep an eye on Upton in addition to Bourn, who's reportedly being shopped for something more down-to-earth and in touch with reality than what the Astros were asking during Pence talks.
Update: Seconds later ...
The Philadelphia Phillies made their big move of the trading season on Friday night. Hunter Pence will be heading to Philadelphia in exchange for top-prospects Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton along with two players-to-be-named-later. Pence has since left the dugout in Houston and will likely join the Phillies Saturday or Sunday.
This was a big haul for the Astros. GM Ed Wade has his job on the line and he needed to rebuild a franchise that has struggled to produce talented young players the last few seasons. Cosart and Singleton will help greatly. Wade will now turn his attention to potentially trading Wandy Rodriguez or, more importantly for Braves fans, Michael Bourn*.
*Just a quick note on Bourn. Some of you have asked (or criticized) recent reports wanting to bring Bourn to Atlanta. Yes, he is left handed and no, he isn't a power hitter, but he has been the most valuable center fielder in baseball since 2009 in terms of WAR. Just something to consider.
The Phillies get a talented outfielder in Pence, but the price was steep and he'll earn roughly $25 million dollars the next 26 months.
It's now time for the Braves to make their move. Stay tuned.
The Atlanta Braves are in a lot of trouble right now. And it's not like things are getting any better, either.
Brian McCann is going to miss at least two more weeks with a strained oblique. Chipper Jones is currently ailing with a sore groin and his health has been a constant question mark the last three seasons. Jordan Schafer is already on the disabled list with a broken bone in his hand and now Nate McLouth is heading to the DL with a lower abdominal strain. And guys like Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward and Martin Prado have all had their fair share of nagging injuries this season.
It is time for Frank Wren to do something.
In the two weeks since the All-Star Break the Braves have seen their lead in the wild card cut in half to just 3.5 games and they've fallen to five back in the NL East. This happened with their best player, Brian McCann, in the lineup and both McLouth and Schafer available for the outfield. What do you think is going to happen now that all three of those players (plus others) are out?
Wren has done a great job since coming to Atlanta. He has made a few questionable mid-season trades, but nothing to seriously jeopardize the future of the organization. His work in the off-season has been pretty stellar and he's managed to turn a 75-win team into a 90+ win team in just two years. That isn't easy to do, and he's done it while keeping a majority of his better prospects.
The Braves have enough talent in the Minor Leagues to make a trade for just about any player in baseball. Julio Teheran is untouchable, but Randall Delgado, Mike Minor and Arodys Vizcaino should all be available. With the recent stretch of injuries to hit our club, it is time for Wren to use some of these assets to improve the team.
It makes the most sense to acquire a center fielder. Whether that player is Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton, Co-Co Crisp or someone else, the center field position is and should be our area of focus in the next 48 hours. If it is not, Frank Wren's future as the Braves GM should seriously be in question.
This team is really good when healthy. Unfortunately, this team isn't healthy and isn't going to be for at least a few weeks. Can the Braves hold on until then? Maybe. It won't be easy. But why take that risk when the club has the assets in place to acquire an outfielder that it so desperately needs? The playoffs could depend on it.
The 2011 MLB trade deadline is less than 72 hours away and the Atlanta Braves are allegedly looking at a short list of outfielders who could help the club as they make their run towards the playoffs. Let's take a look at a few of the rumors from Thursday, July 28.
From Jayson Stark:
Clubs that have spoken with the Braves say they have three primary names on their buy-a-bat shopping list: Hunter Pence, Willingham and Ludwick. The Braves looked into Upton, but don't seem prepared to pay a big price for him. We also haven't heard much that suggests the Braves are still bullpen shopping.
For one, I don't buy the bullpen shopping tidbit for one second. We may not be involved for Mike Adams or Heath Bell, but rest assured Atlanta is looking (and likely will) add a right-handed relief pitcher before July 31. We always do.
As far as the hitters go, the price for Hunter Pence is going to be astronomical and he isn't worth the price tag. Pence is a solid outfielder, but he creates more questions in our outfield than he solves. Josh Willingham and Ryan Ludwick would make sense as a right-handed bat off the bench and occasional starter in left field, though that means Wren is content with not adding an impact bat.
From Ken Rosenthal:
Source: Braves "hot" for Quentin - and #WhiteSox love ATL's young arms.
Quentin is an interesting player and is a force at the plate, but he's purely a left fielder and has battled injuries in past seasons. Would he help? You bet. With Chipper Jones' health a constant question, there's a good chance Martin Prado will be playing third base quite a bit in the next two months. In addition, the club seems intent on at least giving Jason Heyward a few games off against left-handed pitchers, and Prado is capable of playing right field.
Basically, when Martin Prado is covering at third, Carlos Quentin plays left field. When the club is facing a tough left-handed pitcher and Jason Heyward could use a day off, Prado moves to right field and Quentin stays in left. And if Chipper is healthy, Prado is healthy and doesn't need a day off, and we're facing a right-handed pitcher, well, we cross that bridge if and when we get there.
The outfielder has pounded left-handed pitching the last two seasons, even though he has actually performed better against right-handed pitchers over the course of his career. That should be taken into consideration as well.
And the most intriguing part of this whole ordeal: the White Sox would probably move Quentin without requiring one of our top-pitching prospects.
And finally, this tweet came from David O'Brien just moments ago:
Don't know significance, but Wren & asst. GM Manno walked w/ sense of purpose to field to talk w/ Fredi for few minutes, then back upstairs
Carlos Beltran is on his way to San Francisco. Colby Ramsus is on his way to Toronto. The Atlanta Braves are four days away from the 2011 trade deadline and two of their top-targets are off the board. Where will they turn next?
Hunter Pence is a guy who has been continually linked to Atlanta throughout this entire process, though acquiring the awkward outfielder does not make too much sense if he isn't going to play center field full time. He is set to earn approximately $26 million dollars the next two years and two months and he creates a logjam in the outfield.
BJ Upton has been rumored to the club in the past, but he does not exactly fit the bill of an Atlanta Braves-type player. Questions regarding his work ethic and ability to coexist in the clubhouse have been brought up multiple times in the past and his approach at the plate has been described as Francoeurian. He's talented, but the asking price is likely astronomical.
Guys like Ryan Ludwick, Josh Willingham and others, who all project to be part-time left fielders and a late-inning bench bat, could come to Atlanta, but they're hardly the impact bat Frank Wren is rumored to be seeking.
Finally, there's the guy who makes all the sense in the world: Michael Bourn. Why? He's a legitimate center fielder and leadoff man who carries a high batting average and on-base percentage, two things this lineup is sorely lacking. If you liked Jordan Schafer as our leadoff man, imagine Bourn, who is one of the top leadoff men in baseball. He's left-handed, but honestly, it's time to look past that. Michael Bourn should be the priority.
The Hunter Pence trade rumors seemed to have died out over the last weekend, but it appears they still have some life to them. National writers had hinted at various times that Houston was still looking to deal their star outfielder if the right deal came along, but it was this tweet from David O'Brien of the AJC that broke the news:
#Braves have not ruled out making offer for Hunter Pence, contrary to some reports.
There are both strong cases both for and against acquiring Pence. Let's take a look at them...
Why Pence Makes Sense:
There is really no doubt about it: the Atlanta Braves will acquire a hitter of some kind either on or before the July 31 trade deadline. Whether that hitter is an All Star-level player or a platoon guy off the bench, they'll make a deal. As of right now, though, they just don't know who that player will be and what role he'll have on the new team.
Ken Rosenthal gave us an update earlier today regarding our search for a hitter, and it was filled with good information. In a nutshell, the Braves are having an identity crisis with the trade deadline. To be perfectly honest, it seems even Frank Wren doesn't know what he wants to do.
As Rosenthal reports (and as we all know), the club wants to add a right-handed outfielder who can play all three outfield positions. The two big-name targets, Hunter Pence and Carlos Beltran, have a few fans in the organization, but as of right now, it doesn't sound like Atlanta will pay the steep price for either player. Names like Jonny Gomes and Ryan Ludwick have been rumored a multitude of times, but neither of them could play center field and even right field might be a stretch.
The one name that should intrigue everyone is B.J. Upton. Despite possessing more natural talent than just about everyone else in baseball, Upton has never quite been able to put it all together both on the field and in the clubhouse. He's somewhat of a head case and questions regarding his work ethic have come up more than once. Still, though, he'd be a massive upgrade in center field, is rumored to be on the trade market, and is under team control through 2012.
In addition to adding a bat, the Braves are also likely to acquire a reliever. It would make sense to add a reliever from whichever team they acquire the hitter from, but there could be a guy or two on the market who intrigues them and would not cost as much to bring to Atlanta in a separate deal.
Stay tuned. The rumors are flying wild right now, folks.
It sounds more and more like the Atlanta Braves could be nearing a trade.
First, Fredi Gonzalez was on MLB Network earlier today and said he "felt confident" the club would add a right-handed bat. While there was no indication if that meant in a few hours or a few days, it appears a deal will be made eventually to add some right-handed punch to the lineup.
Then, David O'Brien of the AJC tweeted this:
Sounds as if the #Braves could be close to making a deal for a RH bat
Speculation has run wild since then and just about every right-handed bat has been brought up by Braves Country. Martin Gandy mentioned on Twitter that Braves farmhand Zeke Spruill will be skipped in the rotation tonight for the Lynchburg Hillcats, which led to some wondering if he could be included in a potential deal.
This is getting interesting, folks. Stay tuned to SB Nation Atlanta for full coverage of any potential trades or rumors.
UPDATE - 7:30PM, 7/20 - We've received some clarification since all heck broke loose earlier today.
Zeke Spruill isn't involved in any impending deal; he's simply having his innings cut to avoid throwing too many this season.
In addition, Buster Olney mentioned on Twitter that Houston is likely making Hunter Pence available. He also went on to mention the Braves have had interest in the past and have the prospects to make a deal.
The 2011 MLB trade deadline is just twelve days away and the rumors are coming in by the minute. I already speculated the Braves could consider bringing Carlos Beltran to Atlanta and today we heard a few rumors to support that speculation. First came this tweet from Josh Norris, the beat writer for the Trenton Thunder:
Heard this: The #Mets are sending a scout to sit on the #Braves upper-level affiliates through the weekend.
While this could simply be the Mets doing their due diligence to scout a rival's upper-level prospects, it could also be to get an idea of who they could inquire about should they decide to move Carlos Beltran in the next week or two.
In addition to Norris' tweet, SI's Jon Heyman had this update regarding Beltran:
phillies, giants most likely for beltran, then tigers, braves.
This potential trade -- and it's sounding more and more like Beltran will indeed be moved by July 31 -- will come down to two things: the amount of money New York would be willing to absorb, and the quality of prospect(s) sent to the Mets. The outfielder is owed approximately $6 million for the final two months of the season and Atlanta (along with just about every other club in baseball) would need extra money to cover the contract. My guess is New York will unload Beltran to whichever team offers the best prospects, though they could be looking to do a pure salary dump.
Not only are both the Braves and Phillies locked in a race for the National League East, but both teams also seem to be racing against each other to make a deal before the trade deadline expires on July 31. According to MLB.com writer Mark Bowman, both the Braves and Phillies have a shopping list that includes the same players.
Reportedly Atlanta is in the market to acquire a right handed hitting outfielder and a right handed reliever. San Diego's Mike Adams has been mentioned most prominently as a target for both Atlanta and Philadelphia who has bullpen problems of their own. If the Braves could land Adams, it would take some of the strain off the back end of the bullpen that has logged a lot of innings thus far this season.
A potentially expensive option for the right handed hitting outfielder is Houston's Hunter Pence. Bowman writes that both the Braves and Phillies could benefit from acquiring Pence but neither may be looking to give up what it might take to land him. The Astros would most certainly ask for one of the Braves young pitching arms in return for Pence and they have yet to show a willingness to do so.
This just adds more intrigue to the division race with both teams at the top of the division in competition for the same players on the trade market.
According to a report from MLB Buzz of FOX, the Detroit Tigers are placing an emphasis on acquiring a starting pitcher before the July 31 deadline and have turned their attention to Derek Lowe of the Atlanta Braves. Here are parts of what the article had to say:
The Tigers, who currently have a vacancy in their starting rotation, are interested in acquiring veteran right-hander Derek Lowe from the Braves, major-league sources told FOXSports.com.
The sources indicated that the sides have not had serious talks, and Lowe's high salary could be a big barrier for Detroit. He is owed roughly $6 million over the rest of this season and $15 million next year.
Lowe, 38, hasn't pitched for an American League team since 2004, so the Tigers may have some reservations about bringing him back to the more offensive league ... But Lowe, a Michigan native, has good career numbers at Comerica Park. It doesn't hurt that the Tigers and Braves have been frequent trade partners in recent years.
Aside from the asinine Brandon Beachy rumor from a few weeks ago, this is the first substancial rumor we've heard as the hot stove begins to heat up. Why? There are a multitude of reasons.
As stated in the article, the Tigers are looking for a pitcher and the Braves have plenty of them. While Detroit doesn't exactly have oodles of cash laying around to throw at any player they please, acquiring Lowe and the remaining $20MM could be doable assuming the Braves pick up a portion of the remaining salary.
Even if Atlanta has to pickup somewhere between $5-10MM, that would still be a substancial amount of freed assets for the club to pursue an outfielder either at the trade deadline or in the off-season. This could be very appealing to Frank Wren.
Finally, Derek Lowe is currently the worst pitcher in our starting rotation, and he might not even be better than Mike Minor or Julio Teheran, who are the sixth and seventh options right now. Lowe is very good at what he does -- which is inducing a ton of ground balls and keeping the ball in the park -- and despite an ERA of 4.30, his xFIP is very solid at 3.45.
This isn't to say the Braves shouldn't trade him. As a matter of fact, it (probably) makes the most sense to trade Lowe if we are to deal a starting pitcher; Hanson and Teheran are untouchable, Beachy, Minor, Delgado, Jurrjens and Vizcaino would require a massive return should Wren deal them and Tim Hudson has a full no-trade clause with his 10-and-5 rights. This leaves Lowe, who, at least according to the report, has quite a few fans in the Detroit front office.
If a deal is to be made, do not expect Atlanta to get many (if any) Major League-ready players back in the deal. This would be a move to shed salary and nothing else. Perhaps a player to be named later or two would be included, but that would likely be it.
His success (20 strikeouts, two earned runs in his last 12 innings) since returning from the disabled list may accelerate a possible deal to improve the Braves' offense. Whether Beachy would be trade bait is anyone's guess, but his emergence could make a veteran such as Derek Lowe available.
The White Sox recently sent Dave Yokum, their fine assistant general manager/pro scout, to watch Beachy and Braves' pitching, so we'll see if there's any match, and whether the White Sox would ever consider dealing Carlos Quentin.
Cafardo is usually reasonable and smart whenever he speculates at a potential trade, but this rumor just doesn't make sense.
For one, the last thing the White Sox need is another starting pitcher. They currently have five solid starters in Edwin Jackson, Philip Humber, Gavin Floyd, Mark Buehrle and John Danks, and that doesn't include Jake Peavy, who is currently recovering on the disabled list. While it's always nice to add depth, the White Sox don't have any pressing need or void to fill.
Secondly, the Braves haven't even hinted at moving Beachy and, in my opinion, he's the pitcher least likely to be traded outside of Tommy Hanson or Julio Teheran. He's young, cheap, under contract for another five or six seasons, and a very promising starting pitcher. I would believe the speculation a little more if the scout was in attendance to watch Jurrjens, Lowe or one of our Minor League pitchers, but not Beachy.
Finally, I'm not so sure the White Sox have anyone the Braves would be interested in acquiring. Cafardo mentions Carlos Quentin, but he's a) injury prone, b) a terrible defender and c) a free-swinging slugger with bad plate discipline. The Braves aren't looking to add all of that to their club in exchange for a few home runs.
Take the rumor for what it's worth. I'd assume it's pretty safe to rule out any potential deal between Chicago and Atlanta, though I guess you should never say never.
There has been speculation for quite a while now that the Atlanta Braves could be looking to move one of their starting pitchers for an outfield bat, and ESPN's Buster Olney weighed in on the issue in Thursday's column (insider required). Here is what he had to say regarding the Braves:
Their evaluators are checking around for available bats, and the Braves are loaded with young pitching to deal.
Some rival executives have wondered if that pitching depth would allow Atlanta to consider a very bold move with a pitcher whose stock has reached its zenith -- Jair Jurrjens, who is 10-3 with a 2.07 ERA and a midseason candidate for the Cy Young Award. If the Braves actually dangled Jurrjens in the market, they could put themselves in position to get an impact offensive position player in return.
Just to reiterate: All the discussion among rival evaluators about Jurrjens is pure speculation.
While Olney is correct that it would be a very bold move for Frank Wren and the Braves, it would also a very smart move to at least dangle Jurrjens to other teams who are drooling at the aspect of acquiring a young, talented, proven starting pitcher. Why? There are a few reasons.
For one, Jurrjens is a near-one of a kind on the trade market. Teams simply don't get the opportunity to acquire a young, cheap pitcher like Jurrjens in July. Instead, they're contemplating whether or not it's worth it to pay Ted Lilly or Bronson Arroyo millions of dollars for two months of service. Outside of something bizarre happening, Jurrjens would be the biggest and best name on the trade market next month and Frank Wren knows it.
Secondly, Jair Jurrjens' value is at the highest it'll ever be. He's relatively cheap, is experiencing the best year of his career and is still under team control for another two years of arbitration. He'll get less money in arbitration than he would on the open market and that has to be very appealing to GMs around the league. That also gives Wren even more leverage in a potential deal.
Finally, while Jair has been a great guy to watch in Atlanta, he (and Derek Lowe) are the two that make the most sense to potentially trade. Since Lowe is locked down with his massive contract for another year and a half, Jurrjens is likely the one to leave. While he isn't too expensive to keep around, he is a Scott Boras client and the odds of him staying in Atlanta once his contract runs out is minimal. It's sad, but it's the way Boras works.
This all adds up if the Braves are going to acquire a proven position player. The next thirty days or so will show who the contenders and pretenders are and teams will be looking for any starting pitching they can get their hands on. Jair Jurrjens is a very good, young pitcher, but quite simply the Braves have better options and Jurrjens would go a long ways in helping them find the bat they have been searching for.
After much debate on whether or not a corner outfielder would actually solve Atlanta's problems, the club is now linked to a player who makes much more sense: Michael Bourn.
As a matter of fact, Bourn makes a ton of sense.
Here's what SI.com's Jon Heyman had regarding the outfielder in today's column:
A tremendous defensive centerfielder with as much speed as anyone in the game (he leads the NL with 29 stolen bases), it's something of a surprise the Astros are listening at all. But word is, they are. Their one concern, apparently, is trouble with lefthanded pitching (his OPS vs. lefties is only .544 this year compared to .737 overall). The Braves could use speed in the outfield, though Jordan Schafer has looked a bit better in recent weeks.
I'm not too sure what Heyman is referring to with Schafer -- his slash line in June is .215/.261/.308 -- and while I'm as big of a supporter as there is, the kid just isn't ready yet. He missed more than a year of baseball with an injured wrist and he needs more time to develop in the Minor Leagues before we hand him the permanent job in center.
That's why acquiring Michael Bourn seems like a legitimate rumor that could actually happen. He's cheap -- owed a little over $2M this season, will make $5-8M next season -- incredibly fast, as his league-leading 30 stolen bases would indicate, and is a pretty darn good defender in the outfield. He's coming into his prime and is having the best year of his career (.280/.351/.385, 120 wRC+) and isn't going to lock Atlanta in financially as he's a Scott Boras client and will likely be gone after 2012.
For as little sense the Hunter Pence and Josh Willingham rumors made, the Michael Bourn rumors make just about perfect sense. He's exactly what we need.
The baseball season is in full swing, and we're about a month and two weeks away from the July 31 trade deadline. The Braves are currently 40-33 despite a ridiculous number of serious injuries and sit just five games back of the Philadelphia Phillies, who are baseball's best team right now.
So why all the trade chatter surrounding the club? It just doesn't make sense, unless the Braves are planning something crazy.
ESPN's Jayson Stark had this in a recent post weighing in on the Braves:
The Braves are outpitching just about every team in baseball -- including the Phillies. But the Braves continue to worry about an offense that ranks 12th in the National League and 22nd in the big leagues in runs scored per game. So they're aggressively positioning themselves to deal for an outfield bat as soon as they can find a team ready to open its sell-off shop for business. They've checked in on Josh Willingham and Hunter Pence. And an exec of one team reports: "They want a right-handed bat. But at this point, I think they'd take any bat."
While the rumors of the Braves looking for a right handed bat -- or any bat, for that matter -- aren't surprising, the names recently linked to Atlanta do not make sense at all.
There are limited areas the Braves could realistically improve, which drastically limits their search criteria. Brian McCann isn't going anywhere and neither are Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla, Chipper Jones, Jason Heyward or Martin Prado. Shortstop Alex Gonzalez could be moved in the right deal, but he's cheap and a stellar defensive infielder, both of which are very appealing to the Braves.
This basically leaves center field open as the only area at which the Braves could make a significant upgrade. Pence and Willingham are not center fielders, and neither is a good majority of the players the team has been linked to in recent weeks. While there's always the chance of an off-the-radar move (see Rick Ankiel, 2010), you get the sense the Braves are ready to make another big move. They have the pitching prospects to get just about any deal done.
It seems as if adding an established outfielder who isn't a capable center fielder would bring on more question than it would solve. First of all, where does he play? While capable of playing multiple positions, the Braves just asked Prado to change positions this past offseason. Would they really ask him to change once again? Could Prado even play center field?
And if the club doesn't intend to move Prado, we all know Heyward isn't going anywhere. That leaves center field, which is arguably the most difficult and most important defensive position on a baseball diamond.
That's why I don't believe any of the recent reports of the Braves looking for a corner outfielder. Unless the team plans to transform Prado into a center fielder or super, super, super utility man (he'd likely take turns playing everywhere except shortstop and center field), I don't see how any deals get done. Does Frank Wren really make a big deal for a player who wouldn't necessarily even be playing on a daily basis?
Don't be surprised if the Braves don't make a big move in the next month and a half. Instead of adding question marks to their club, they should focus on improving their exhausted bullpen and abysmal bench. Don't make a move just to make a move.
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