Fredi Gonzalez Talks B.J. Upton, the Farm System, and Atlanta's Offseason Plans

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez joined MLB Network Radio's Jim Memolo and Jeff Nelson on "First Pitch" on SiriusXM Monday morning. Here's some of what he had to say.

Frank Wren was on MLB Network Radio yesterday talking about a multitude of items, which you can read about here and here.

This morning, it was Fredi Gonzalez's turn to talk about the Braves' offseason plans, and I've transcribed some of what he had to say in that interview here.

On being involved in the free agent meetings process regarding B.J. Upton:

Gonzalez: "It really is my first time doing it. Frank (Wren) made it a great process really; he came in and brought in B.J. (Upton) and his agent and his people. We kind of just relaxed in the middle of the clubhouse, and we ended up talking for, I don't know, an hour or an hour and a half. Frank took him around the clubhouse a little bit, and it was good. We brought in Greg Walker, our hitting coach from just down South Georgia, and he came in and we talked baseball. It was fun.

He's a coveted guy. Everybody in baseball wants him. Hopefully here in Atlanta, which is a great place to play, we've got a nice little nucleus of a baseball team that won 94 games last year, and we could use (Upton). If he does come to us, he's going to be a big impact in our lineup."

On how the meeting went with B.J Upton:

"I think it went great. At one point Larry Reynolds, his agent, goes 'you know, this is the most I've heard him talk' in all the years he's had him, so it was good. That meant that he felt comfortable with the situation, he felt comfortable sitting there with Greg Walker, myself, Frank (Wren), and Bruce (Manno), and then by the way, Bobby (Cox) shows up. Bobby Cox had something to do at the stadium that day, and he showed up in the locker room and Bobby sat there with him. It was great; sat there and talked to him for ten or fifteen minutes before he had to do his appearance. He was comfortable.

I was really impressed. I was impressed with (Upton's) knowledge of the game; he asked me some great questions about aggressive base running. He asked me even some saber type questions. 'How's your lineup, am I going to come in and be hitting eighth one day, am I going to come in and hit ninth (one day)?' I said No, no, we usually like our set lineups.' The conversation was great. I thought the rapport between Greg and him were outstanding. It was fun. It's got to boil down to how he feels about his family, the money, and the length of the contract, and you can't blame him for that. You really can't.

I think he would feel comfortable here in Atlanta...Him and Larry are going to sit down and talk it over with their families and see what they come up to. I would sure love to have him."

On whether Josh Hamilton is a realistic option for Atlanta:

"We've talked about a lot of different people, a lot of different free agents; him being one. We've also kind of talked internally about Angel Pagan. Everybody that's out there that's a free agent, we've kind of talked about. The only guy that we've brought in, obviously, has been B.J. Upton, because we feel like he's like our number one guy. We've spoken about all those guys, really. We'll see what happens."

On the farm system:

"...We've got a lot of good things happening. Our minor league system is stocked pretty good. Our scouts and our farm director have done a terrific job of getting the (Julio) Teheran's and the (Randall) Delgado's. We've got (Christian) Bethancourt, a young catcher who is ready to come about any time, and when he does, watch out because he's a defensive weapon. He's coming along.

We've got a kid in the Arizona Fall League, (Nick) Ahmed, who is a pretty good player. He's knocking on the door. By me saying all that, we've got some pieces. We've got some pieces that other teams or other organizations would like to have.

We've got a young kid who is just out of college two years ago, Sean Gilmartin, who people want to have in their rotations. So, that being said, we're in a good situation. We're not going to give anything away, but we're in a good situation to improve our club, even through trades."

On preference of filling holes by trade or in free agency:

"Well, we can do both. I think we're really seriously in the B.J. Upton market, and we're in there. We made him come down to Atlanta and talk to us, so we're in there. We're bidding for that center fielder spot, but we've also got other opportunities via trade. Even if we do get Upton; maybe go get somebody else and really help our team."

On what his biggest concern is about the team heading into the offseason:

"...Obviously, the hole in center field (is one). If we can't re-sign Michael Bourn or (sign) a B.J. Upton, there's going to be some trading going on and trying to find and fill that hole. Frank and his staff have been doing a terrific job. I get a daily phone call from him saying 'hey, we've talked to this team, we've talked to that team, we've talked to this free agent guy, what do you think?' It's been nice to know that our people are trying to fill the holes to get back into the postseason and to go deep into the postseason."

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