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Winter Meetings Preview: Atlanta Braves May Be Active

December 3rd, 2011 at 12:31 AM
By Jonathan McCullough

With the MLB Winter Meetings set to begin Monday in Dallas, the Atlanta Braves could be very busy. The offseason has been fairly uneventful to this point, but with the new collective bargaining agreement, the pace should pick up significantly among MLB teams.

The Braves have found themselves in the middle of many speculative reports, with two names in particular being tossed around the rumor mill: Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens. The Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers have both been linked to trade discussions surrounding Prado, but whether those trade talks were substantive or not is unknown at this point. Prado and Jurrjens are set to make around $5 million each after arbitration raises.

Braves general manager Frank Wren has always been more candid about potential trades and free agent signings than his predecessor John Schuerholz, but he has been played his cards close to the vest this offseason.

“I’ve actively [reports say] shopped players this fall [when actually] I haven’t even mentioned their names,” Wren said.

While Wren may just be employing "GM speak" in order to not reveal his hand, it is apparent that he is not actually seeking to trade Prado and Jurrjens.

"Martin Prado is a solid player and a part of our team for almost five years," Wren went on to say about the rumors involving Prado. "We're not out looking to trade good players."

The only names linked to the Prado trade discussions thus far are Seth Smith and Delmon Young, neither of whom are upgrades over (or even as good as) Prado. 

As for the Winter Meetings, Wren will likely look to address shortstop and the bench at the minimum. The Braves' front office thinks very highly of two young shortstop prospects, Andrelton Simmons and Tyler Pastornicky; therefore, they will likely be looking for a stopgap at shortstop. A veteran like Jack Wilson could serve as Pastornicky's backup (if they choose to go with Pastornicky as the starter), or they might look at the trade market for a one or two-year solution at shortstop.

“We’re comfortable with him at shortstop at the major-league level,” Wren said of Pastornicky. “We think he’ll grow and get better, and offensively he’s shown us that he can handle the bat over the last year and a half. I think he’s at least a 20-plus stolen base player at the major league level, and his numbers in the minor leagues were double that.”

"But we’re very open minded in how we can configure that position,” Wren said, indicating his willingness to think outside the box as he constructs the 2012 roster.

There's no question the Braves need an upgrade on offense. With an established starter at every position except shortstop, Wren will undoubtedly have to get creative. Luckily for the Braves, they have a commodity that every team covets: a plethora of good young starting pitching. With the Braves' stellar young talent at his fingertips, Wren has the means to acquire almost any player he wants. However, he and the rest of the front office have to carefully weigh each decision to not only field the best possible team this season but also for many seasons to come.

Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Jair Jurrjens, Martin Prado, MLB

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