Braves: Trades First, Then Free Agents

The Braves probably realize that they may have jumped the gun when the signed two free agent relievers in Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito last week, before their own free agents made up their mind about whether they wanted to accept salary arbitration. As most of us already know, Rafael Soriano accepted arbitration and threw the Braves plans for the off-season and the winter meetings into disarray.

Instead of GM Frank Wren only having to move one starting pitcher (likely Derek Lowe), he now needs to move a reliever as well. Soriano has asked to be traded and several teams are in the mix, including the Orioles and Angels, and if money were less of an object, the Astros. It's important for more than one team to be in the fray so that the Braves can drive up the price a bit and get a better return, and possibly a useful piece they can plug in to their roster for 2010.

The urgency to move Soriano has led to the Braves putting other free agent options for position players on the back burner, according to Mark Bowman. This is out of a necessity to clear salary space before committing any more money to players for next season.

While Wren continues to say that the Soriano Surprise will not deter the Braves from their off-season plans, it has certainly slowed those plans until the more immediate situation of trading their former closer concludes. With multiple sources saying we should be able to trade Soriano easily and quickly I certainly hope they are correct. One thing going for us here is that the Braves seldom demand more value in return in a trade than the player they're trading is really worth. This is not the Blue Jays trying to deal Roy Halladay. There is a need for Wren to get Soriano, and to an extent Lowe, traded as soon as possible, so that he can focus on the never ending pursuit of hitting.

[UPDATE:  3PM]

Ken Rosenthal says the Tampa Bay Rays and the Astros are the two teams trying to trade for Soriano. Earlier in the afternoon we learned that the Angels and Orioles were out of the running. The Astros may fall out of contention, as they instead may land Matt Lindstrom from the Marlins.

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