The Atlanta Braves have been very quiet so far this offseason, and that did not change during this past week's Winter Meetings in Dallas.
Braves fans likely expected some activity during the Winter Meetings, perhaps a trade or even a free agent signing. However, the only news was the selection of Robert Fish in the Rule V draft, a move that likely will prove insignificant.
Throughout the offseason, there have been rumors surrounding the availability of Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens. Frank Wren has stated that he is not looking to trade either player, but he has always been and will always be open to a trade that makes the team better. Even though there were several reports of teams calling about Prado and Jurrjens, no deal was made (or presumably even close).
Wren has said that the Braves are looking for a backup shortstop and an outfielder. Nick Punto is a strong possibility for the backup shortstop role, as he would provide a solid glove up the middle and serve as a fallback option should Tyler Pastornicky struggle. The Braves could also sign Cody Ross, who was made available when the San Francisco Giants announced that they would not re-sign him. Ross is a right-handed hitter who can play all three outfield positions, and he played under manager Fredi Gonzalez as a member of the Florida Marlins.
“It would be great to reunite with Fredi and (bench coach) Carlos (Tosca) and Uggla,” Ross said. “I think they have a really good team.”
After the historic collapse this past September, it is understandable that Braves fans want the team to make a big splash in the trade or free agent market. It likely won't happen, and maybe that's not such a bad thing. The 2011 Atlanta Braves were within one game of the playoffs despite down years from every offensive player not named Freddie Freeman or Chipper Jones, and they were without two of their three best pitchers during the last month and a half of the season.
It's reasonable to expect those hitters who struggled last season to improve, and a full season of Michael Bourn at the top of the lineup will certainly help. If the Braves do add Punto and Ross, their bench immediately becomes a huge asset.
Lastly, with the injuries and uncertainty surrounding Tim Hudson (back), Tommy Hanson (shoulder), and Jurrjens (knee), it might not be such a bad idea to hold onto those young pitchers that every other team would love to have.
The Winter Meetings came and went without any real news about the Braves. Other teams in the division have made moves, but the Braves haven't. However, Wren should be commended for not making a hasty move out of desperation. Wren knows he has a good team, and he will undoubtedly pull the trigger on a deal that makes the Braves a better team. What he has shown he won't do is trade important pieces of the Braves' future just to appease fans and "keep up" with the rest of the division. Braves fans should be thankful for that.
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