All is not lost for the Atlanta Braves. While it may have seemed like we were putting a lot of our off-season eggs in the A.J. Burnett basket, we apparently have other things in the works. Braves GM Frank Wren was busy at the winter meetings planting seeds for possibly future moves:
Wren said Thursday that there were deals the Braves could possibly make in the next days, one contingent on another team first making another trade. He said the Braves have the framework in place for another possible trade and only needed to agree on players the Braves would include in the deal.
Here are some possible moves that the Braves might be considering (or at the very least, make some degree of sense for the team):
- Sign Ben Sheets. I'm not sure how much Sheets is being offered by the teams interested, and it has been said that the Braves are not interested in him, but circumstances certainly have changed. Perhaps the best way to get Sheets to Atlanta would be to throw big money at him for two years, increasing what he could get per year elsewhere, but still not putting a pitcher with a history of injury on the books long term. Say two guaranteed years at $12 or so million with a third team option year. So far the hot team in on Sheets has been the Rangers.
- Trade with the Reds. There was a rumor earlier in the off-season that the Reds had interest in Jeff Francoeur. Perhaps that trade could be rekindled in a Francoeur for Bronson Arroyo or Aaron Harang swap. Both pitchers had their rough spots this year, but so did Frenchy, so this might be a buy low bid for each team. Perhaps we could get a better deal from the Reds if they are looking to clear either pitcher's salary from their books (Arroyo's owed around $10 million and Harang around $11 million each of the next two years).
- Trade with the Royals. This has certainly been an oft-repeated rumor -- with the Braves side wanting starter Zach Greinke from Kansas City. It likely would not be Jeff Francoeur going to KC in this deal, but other unknown players or prospects. KC GM Dayton Moore still knows the Braves system well, so don't think that any level of minor prospects would go unnoticed by him, but even he knows the value of the big talent in our system.
- Sign John Smoltz. This is an obvious one, and something I think the team will still wait a month or so on, but it certainly makes many Braves fans nervous that other teams are eying our lifelong Brave. This shouldn't be just about nostalgia, though it may be partly nostalgia, we should be signing Smoltz because he still has the ability to be a top of the rotation starter... when healthy.
I was trying to rack my brain and scan the rosters of other teams to see what else Wren might have in store in the way of trades, but I couldn't come up with anything that wasn't a complete flight of fancy. My inclination is that if and when we do pull off a trade it will come as somewhat of a surprise, and likely something we hadn't heard about until it happens. This is the way the Vazquez deal went down, and this has been the history with other trades that Wren and his predessor have made. Usually the trades we talk most about are the ones that never happen.