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Braves might be interested in Red Sox pitcher Brad Penny

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When the Brave make a trade it's never just one trade, it's usually several, and the Nate McLouth deal may just be the beginning of the dealing.

Atlanta is one of the teams in conversation with the Boston Red Sox about veteran right-hander Brad Penny, according to sources, at a time when the Red Sox have been doing their own research on Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur.

Seems intriguing, go on...

Atlanta's bullpen, however, has been a problem -- the Braves ranked 17th among 30 teams in relief ERA, at 4.32.

It is unclear whether Atlanta would have interest in Penny as a starter or as a reliever; if the Braves added Penny to their rotation, they could shift Kawakami into their bullpen.

Kawakami has been effective, generally, through the first 45 pitches of his starts, but opponents have an OPS of 1.042 against him in pitches 46 to 60.

Is that all...

The Braves and Red Sox match up with other pieces and parts, as well, if they were to expand their conversations beyond Penny and Francoeur.

Oh boy, this trade season really has started early. Penny is only signed through the end of this year, so getting him for Francoeur may be just a way to casually get rid of Francoeur without outright releasing him.

Of course, the Braves say they're not interested:

It's been an eventful and hectic week for the Braves.  But contrary to an ESPN.com report, a Major League source said that the Braves don't have any interest in acquiring Brad Penny from the Red Sox.

And the dance goes on.