The Atlanta Braves began their busy offseason on November 1, 2012 when former Brave, Jordan Schafer, returned to the team after being claimed off waivers from the Houston Astros. Later that month, David Ross’ departure led to the signing of backup catcher Gerald Laird and the Braves also bolstered their bullpen by trading starting pitcher Tommy Hanson for young reliever Jordan Walden. Since then, Braves General Manager Frank Wren has either traded for or signed a host of players whose presence has been critical for the Braves’ success this season.
Wren came into the offseason with the financial ability to make significant changes. The Braves had nearly $21 million in additional funds to work with following the lack of interest in re-signing outfielder Michael Bourn and the retirement of future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones.
The real excitement began on November 28 when the Braves signed free agent outfielder B.J. Upton to a five-year deal worth $75 million, the largest free agent contract in the team’s history. But Wren did not stop there. In January, Atlanta traded for B.J.’s brother, Justin Upton, sending Martin Prado and Randall Delgado, as well as three minor leaguers to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The biggest surprise of the offseason, however, has been the other player Atlanta acquired in their deal with Arizona. As part of the Justin Upton trade, the Braves also received third baseman Chris Johnson, who leads the National League in batting and has been a consistent source of offense all season. He is attempting to become the first Brave to win the National League batting title since Chipper’s win in 2008.
Other key offseason components have come directly from within the Braves organization. Rookie catcher Evan Gattis became a fan favorite early in the season and has provided a number of key hits for the Braves. Another rookie, highly touted pitching prospect Julio Teherán, has cemented himself in Atlanta’s starting rotation. Following a rough April to start the season, Tehran has settled in with a record of 9-5 and has become a pivotal member of the Braves staff.
The Atlanta Braves have endured a number of injuries and setbacks as they have continued to battle their way through the dog days of summer. And General Manager Frank Wren’s ambitious offseason moves have allowed them to maintain their position at the top of the N.L. East.
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