It was such a tumultuous few days, some of us may have forgotten what exactly the Braves did and got out of baseball's Winter Meetings. Here's a recap:
- Rumors coming into the meetings had Rafael Soriano "leaning" towards accepting the Braves offer of salary arbitration, instead of declining like he should and netting the Braves 2 draft picks.
- Those rumors increased once folks got to Indianapolis.
- We had a fun first-day rumor about Yankees reliever Brian Bruney possibly heading to the Braves, but he ended up going to the Nats.
- The Braves had interest in Nats outfielder Josh Willingham, but the Nats weren't willing to part with him.
- There has been a lot of interest on the trade front in Braves second baseman Kelly Johnson, but nothing else was mentioned after that first day.
- After a night of sheer agony and waiting, Soriano finally set the rumors right and accepted arbitration from the Braves.
- Because of that decision, the Braves had to DFA Ryan Church, whom they still have not traded (nor likely will).
- Like clockwork, Soriano's agent asks the Braves for a trade, thusly skirting the free agent compensation system.
- There was some rumored interest by the Braves in free agent Xavier Nady.
- But the trading of surplus pitching dollars was top priority over anything else, and our Meeting's were seemingly put on hold until the Soriano situation could be resolved.
- Finally, in the middle of the night, we learned that Rafael had been moved to the Rays for a mighty return of... Jesse Chavez.
- As if the Braves had not been slighted enough during the meetings, they lost promising lefty Edgar Osuna in the Rule 5 draft to none other than the Royals.
The Soriano trade is not yet official, the two sides are apparently awaiting the medical files or pending physicals to consummate the deal. Tampa Bay got a steal of a closer for next season at a reasonable $7 million-plus. A condition of the deal was that the Rays agree in principal to sign Soriano before the deal was complete.
The good news for the Braves is that we apparently don't have to send any money to the Rays, and thus the whole Soriano Surprise was just an unpleasant distraction that netted us a durable middle reliever for our bullpen next year. Jesse Chavez won't blow anyone's socks off, but in a pen where Cox likes to run people out there day after day, Chavez seems to be a guy that can be abused in that way. He's also a childhood friend of Jo-Jo Reyes, and was good friends with Nate McLouth when they were teammates with the Pirates.
The Soriano Surprise may have been a sour point for some fans, but the original thinking was that the team would not offer him arbitration, and it was only a few days before the deadline that we learned they would. Wren knew the risks, and instead of not offering him arbitration and ending up with nothing, they rolled the dice and ended up with a serviceable and affordable major league middle reliever. As weird as that is, I'd call it a win. Especially since we likely needed another middle bullpen guy like Chavez anyway.
Osuna was not a huge loss in the Rule 5, and the Braves usually do one of the best jobs of any organization of scouting their own players, so while he has talent, the Braves obviously thought more of some of the other guys they protected.
We have to believe that the main goal accomplished at the Meetings for the Braves was to lay the groundwork for a future trade of Derek Lowe. They should know the full market by now, and whether they need to wait until after Lackey signs or not. Hopefully we'll see some movement on one of those fronts soon, and hopefully he can bring back some sort of more valuable return than a Jesse Chavez, though to clear payroll, I may be willing to accept such a return if it means we can sign a bat.