A few tidbits of information today. First off, from Mark Bowman we learn that the Braves have signed light-hitting utility man Joe Thurston, who last year was with the Cardinals, to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Thurston is mainly a second baseman, but he's made himself more valuable in recent years be learning to play the outfield and most recently learning to play third base (though, not that well). He's played a tad bit of shortstop in the minor leagues, but mainly he'll be in camp competing for the second utility infield position.
In the same blog post, and later in a front page post, Bowman quotes a source who confirms that it is highly unlikely that Javier Vazquez would waive his no-trade clause to go to a West coast team. I tackled that rumor and debunked it last night, albeit with out a "source," I instead used logic. It's good to know that Javy is still interested in remaining in Atlanta beyond next season. I'd like to see that happen, but of course, all of this is predicated on the Braves moving Derek Lowe.
Speaking of Lowe, I expect that we'll begin to hear another team mentioned more frequently in trade rumors with Lowe -- the New York Yankees. They seem to be tackling one off-season priority at a time, and after acquiring Curtis Granderson and now signing Nick Johnson, many people expect them to focus on starting pitching. The Braves are rumored to have long been interested in Nick Swisher. If they can swing Lowe for Swisher, then that may free up the Yankees to go back and try to re-sign Johnny Damon, another move that is seemingly in the Yankees interest.
Another team that may be looking for more starting pitching is the Cubs, who just freed up a bunch of money by trading Milton Bradley. I'm not sure how they would match up in a trade with the Braves, though, as they don't seem to have any surplus at a position the Braves need to fill.
I also continue to hear that free agent Xavier Nady and the Braves are close to a deal, and that only lingering medical questions about Nady are holding up the deal. Getting Swisher and Nady would seem to wrap up the principal needs of the Braves off-season, and set us up with a good and deep team heading into spring training. One name that I haven't heard mentioned with the Braves, but one I'd like to hear mentioned is Troy Glaus. He's a year removed from a fantastic season, and while he would primarily play first base, he would be an excellent third base insurance policy against Chipper Jones getting injured.
The Braves front office also officially announced, via a press release, that the team has signed six minor league free agents this off-season. The list includes left-handed pitcher Mariano Gomez, catchers Orlando Mercado and J.C. Boscan, infielder Joe Thurston and outfielders Brent Clevlen and Mitch Jones. They join right-handed pitcher Scott Proctor, who signed in November.