Could the Braves be listening to trade offers for Jonny Venters?
People around baseball have been talking about how good the Atlanta Braves bullpen could be this year, and how stacked they are with power arms, and relievers who could close out games. The Braves front office wouldn't want to weaken that in any way, would they?
Talk among scouts that #Braves will listen on Venters. Braves, though, say they love depth in their bullpen, including 3 LHs with Avilan.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 6, 2013
Reeling this back in for a moment, Rosenthal does say that the Braves will simply listen on Jonny Venters, not that they're calling other teams trying to trade him away. This seems like it would be a weird thing for the Braves to be exploring right now.
There has been a lot of buzz this spring about the young bullpen arms, and possible future bullpen arms for the Braves. Could the team really want to go younger in the pen? Surely they're not trying to pull a "last minute Livan" again this year. Would anyone really be okay with Avilan, Gearrin, and Varvaro all making the club, but Venters being traded away?
All this talk seems a bit premature with the uncertainty of Eric O'Flaherty and Jordan Walden, who are both currently out with minor back injuries. But perhaps the emergence of Avilan as an effective option from the left side, and the acquisition of Walden make someone in the pen expendable.
There's a lot of spring training left, and a lot will hinge on the health of the seven guys expected to go north with the club, but the Braves could be trying to play a game of sell-high here. They have a lot of depth in their pen, and if they think they have enough, and another team is desperate enough to overpay for Venters, then why not "listen."
Poor Mark Bowman had to get up before noon on his day off to respond via Twitter to this rumor:
[Braves] should listen to offers re: areas of strength. But doubtful the return would be significant enough to prompt breaking up the pen. [...]
If listening on Venters, have to assume same re: EOF. But I highly doubt either would be moved.
We'll track this story and see how it develops.