December 2011

Braves did not offer Jurrjens and Prado to the Orioles

The Braves expressed interest in Adam Jones.  But they did not offer Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens to the Orioles in exchange for the outfielder.

A source with knowledge of the Orioles negotiations disputed a Baltimore Sun report that indicated the Braves were rejected when they offered Prado, Jurrjens and a pitching prospect for Jones.

The source said the Braves were told Jones was unavailable when they asked about him a couple weeks ago.  The Orioles later called the Braves to see if they would trade Prado, Jurrjens and two other “premium guys” in exchange for Jones.

The Braves said they were not interested and the two clubs have not had any recent discussions about these players.

Odds and Ends: Jurrjens, Prado and Moylan

With Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson no longer on the free agent market, some have argued Jair Jurrjens is the best available starting pitcher for pitching-hungry teams. But the Braves still have not received a trade proposal attractive enough to trade Jurrjens.

The Yankees, Rangers, Rockies, Reds, Cubs and Red Sox are among the clubs that have been identified as potential suitors for Jurrjens.   The D-backs (trade with the A’s) and Marlins (signing of Buehrle) were more prominent members of this group most of last week.

With a number of teams still looking for starting pitching, interest in Jurrjens could increase over the next few weeks.  One definite influence is the market for Yu Darvish. Once clubs better understand what they will have to pay the Japanese hurler, they might show greater interest in Jurrjens.

There are some concerns about Jurrjens’ right knee, which has sidelined him during the latter stages of the past two seasons. But there might still be some teams willing to take a chance on him as he comes off an All-Star season with salary projected to be just north of $5 million.  The 25-year-old pitcher has one more year of eligibility beyond this year.

The Braves also have not yet heard an attractive trade offer for Martin Prado, who is also drawing attention from the Rockies.  The Tigers were quickly rejected last month when they offered outfielder Delmon Young for Prado.

The Braves are expected to non-tender Peter Moylan before Monday night’s deadline.  Given that there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding his surgically-repaired right shoulder, it definitely should not come as a surprise to hear the Braves will not tender Moylan a contract and then be obligated to pay him something in the neighborhood of $2 million in 2012.

Braves general manger Frank Wren said last week that he plans to talk to Moylan about the possibility of returning to the organization at a cheaper cost once he starts throwing and gaining a better sense of how much he could pitch this upcoming season.

Saw some chatter about Brooks Conrad on Twitter this past weekend and it might have been sarcastic.  But for those of you projecting next year’s roster, I wouldn’t reserve a spot for Conrad.   He doesn’t seem to be much of a factor in the plans for next year’s club.

Quick hits from Day 3

As Wednesday nears its end during this year’s Winter Meetings, there is still reason to wonder where Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado might be playing this year.   The Rockies are interested in both and could prove to be a fit.  But it does not seem like a trade is imminent.

Frank Wren and Fredi Gonzalez both addressed media members this afternoon.   Wren once again stressed that he believes he already has the foundation of a club that can gain a playoff berth last year.  Gonzalez spent time discussing a variety of topics, including his reluctance to leave the house during the weeks following this season.

These stories can be found on MLB.com and braves. com…Below are couple tidbits that did not appear in those stories.

Wren said he will not talk to Michael Bourn about a potential contract extension before entering the arbitration process in January.  He also said that he has no intention to push Chipper Jones toward making a decision about playing beyond the 2012 season.

Jones has a $9 million option for the 2013 season that would vest if he plays 123 games this upcoming season.  The veteran third baseman, who will turn 40 in April, played 126 games this past season and seemed to be at his best when given a chance to play with regular rest.

Gonzalez said he plans to continue giving Jones regular breaks this season.

“We’ll probably cut him back a little more,” Gonzalez said. “Having  (Martin) Prado, that luxury to move him to third anytime we needed to give a rest to Chipper, it’s a big plus for us.”

This certainly doesn’t mean the Braves won’t trade Prado.  Gonzalez was simply pointing out that Prado is the kind of player that gives him the confidence to rest Jones on a regular basis.

Nate McLouth  has signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal to serve as the Pirates fourth outfielder.   He talked to reporters today and took time to reflect on his time with the Braves:

“It was really difficult. Other than certain family tragedies, it was the most difficult time in my life. To struggle performance-wise as much as I did and to have the injuries that I did was tough. I really am looking foward to getting back to a place where I played (most of) my career, where I had a little success and really felt comfortable. The past couple of years were very, very difficult.”

“If I could put my finger on it, I’d have fixed it a lot sooner. I dug myself into a hole, kept digging deeper and searching for answers and ways out. I only found myself getting in deeper. It’s tough to find better people to work with than the Braves. I have nothing but good things to say about everybody there. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen for me there. I could never get the right feel. I could never get in a groove.”

 

Opposing teams sensing Braves will trade either Prado or Jurrjens

Braves general manager Frank Wren has said he does not need to make a significant trade this winter.   But scouts and executives from other Major League clubs are still getting a sense either Jair Jurrjens or Martin Prado will be moved.

Jurrjens would provide the more significant return, especially after C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle are no longer free-agent options for pitching-hungry teams.    Right now, some potential suitors believe the Braves are asking for too much in return for the right-handed pitcher.

With fewer options available for these clubs to fill their respective starting rotations, teams might be willing to provide more for Jurrjens.

There are a number of clubs concerned about Jurrjens’ durability.  His right knee has prevented him from pitching down the stretch during both of the past two seasons.   But he did provide himself and the Braves some confidence when he threw five strong innings while wearing a knee brace during an Instructional League game one day after this year’s regular season concluded.

By moving Jurrjens or Prado, the Braves would gain approximately $5 million worth of payroll flexibility.  But Wren has continued to stress that he does not have to make a trade for payroll purposes.

When the Braves hired Scott Fletcher to serve as an on-site  advance scout/assistant hitting coach, they revealed they would no longer employ an traditional advance scout who would travel to various cities to create reports on upcoming opponents.   This raised some eyebrows considering they had just hired highly-regarded Bob Johnson to fill this role one year earlier.

The Braves are simply following the lead of a handful of other clubs who have already adopted this method of having their advance scout remain with their own Major League club and prepare for upcoming opponents via video.

But according to a National League scout, this decision was also seemingly influenced by the fact that Johnson’s traditional way of compiling reports did not provide  manager Fredi Gonzalez what he was seeking in his advance reports.

Fortunately for the Braves, Johnson decided to stay with the organization to serve as a professional scout, who will monitor a handful of other organizations.   The veteran scout remains one of the more respected individuals in his profession.

Good to hear  J.J. Picollo is among the top candidates to become the Astros next general manager.  Picollo spent seven years in the Braves player development department before following Royals general manager Dayton Moore to Kansas City.

Braves evaluate options during Meetings’ first day

Braves general manager Frank Wren confirmed adding  a power-hitting outfielder remains on his wish list.  But while meeting with a small group of reporters Monday afternoon, he said his only true roster need is to find a backup shortstop.

The Braves would like to add a veteran to serve as a backup infielder and provide insurance in the event that Tyler Pastornicky proves he is not ready to serve as Atlanta’s starting shortstop.   Their free agent targets include Nick Punto and Ronny Cedeno.

Jack Wilson’s offensive woes hurt his candidacy and Edgar Renteria is no longer deemed durable enough to serve as an insurance option who might have to  play on regular basis.

“We feel like we do have a 95-win team,” Wren said. “When you have a 95-win team, you don’t look to do a lot.  You look for guys to maybe bounce back from whatever held them back the year before or fine tune. We’re still in that mode.

“If we did nothing more than sign a backup shortstop, we feel really good about our team going into Spring Training.”

If the Braves make a significant acquisition, they will likely do so via a trade involving either Jair Jurrjens or Martin Prado.  But as the first day of this year’s Winter Meetings neared its end Monday, it remained unclear whether the Braves will move either of these players.

CBS Sports.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted that Reds were showing interest in Jurrjens.  But it does not appear the Reds have shown any interest in the right-handed pitcher.

Nothing has really changed in relation to Prado and Jurrjens.  The Braves are only going to move them if they are gaining a significant return.

“There’s an adrenaline rush to making a deal,” Wren said. “But the bottom line is, does it make us better? We’re not going to make a deal just to make a splash at home.  We’re not going to make a deal just to make a deal.  We’re looking to get better.  We’ve identified some areas where we think we can get better and that’s our whole goal here.”

Health concerns could keep Braves from trading starters

The Braves arrived in Dallas prepared to be busy during this year’s Winter Meetings. But as the opening hours progressed Monday morning, it was still unclear what they might do.

There is certainly still reason to believe rumors and buzz will develop regarding potential trades of Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado. Multiple teams have shown interest in these players and the Braves might be willing to work a deal if receiving a significant return.

There have been many discussions regarding whether the Braves should be reluctant to trade Jurrjens when there is some uncertainty surrounding Tommy Hanson’s shoulder.

Now there are also questions surrounding Tim Hudson.

When Hudson underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back last week, Braves general manager Frank Wren said early reports indicated Hudson will be ready at the start of Spring Training.

But a Major League source said Monday morning that Hudson has told some close friends that he is not confident he is not sure he will be ready to be in the starting rotation at the start of the regular season.

Because there is impressive starting pitching depth with the likes of Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado and Kris Medlen, the Braves could certainly get by with Hudson missing a few weeks or the first month.

But Hudson’s situation seemingly provides even more reason for the Braves to be hesitant about dealing Jurrjens, even if the return is significant.

 

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