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Atlanta Braves news and links: Bobby Cox could (again) be key to Fredi's future

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Fredi Gonzalez's future as Atlanta Braves manager is pretty fluid. If he's going to make the move with the Braves to Cobb County, then he has to hope that he's still in the good graces of the legendary Bobby Cox.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

BRAVES NEWS

Bobby Cox will (once again) be key to Fredi Gonzalez's future as manager

There's a very good chance that the 2016 Braves could be pretty bad. Whether they'll be as bad or worse than the 2015 version is anybody's guess, but at some point the buck has to stop with someone, and that someone could be Fredi Gonzalez. There's been a lot of speculation as to whether or not Gonzalez will be around to make the move to Cobb County, but Fredi may still have one major figure in his corner: Bobby Cox.

But in Gonzalez’s case, one fan could play a huge role in whether he manages the Braves beyond 2016 — Bobby Cox, who plans to be even more involved with team operations in 2016 in his role as a special assistant.

Though the team is reportedly noncommittal about Gonzalez’s future after next season, that’s not necessarily evidence of anything. Because when No. 6 speaks, the Braves still listen.

Braves may or may not be pursuing Darren O'Day and Matt Thornton

We had a bit of weird free agency rumor last night. It makes sense that the Braves would be trying to improve their bullpen, since that was the clear weak spot on the team. What was confusing is the fact that the Braves were apparently in the running for Darren O'Day, who figures to be the most expensive reliever on the market this offseason. Now, it appears that the Braves probably won't go after O'Day since Mark Bowman is reporting that the price is too high, but it does seem a little strange that the Braves were trying to go after O'Day of all people, considering where they're currently at in their rebuilding process.

Braves protect John Gant and Mallex Smith from Rule 5 Draft

Ahead of Friday's deadline to add players to the 40-man roster, the Braves made two additions to the roster by adding P John Gant and OF Mallex Smith. These are two of three players who Eric predicted that the Braves would add, so it's not really a huge surprise that these two are on the 40-man roster now. Still, it's good to see that these two (especially Mallex) won't be plucked away via the Rule 5 Draft.

Braves just made it "near impossible" to trade Freddie Freeman this offseason

Meanwhile, trade rumors surrounding Freddie Freeman have cooled down considerably as this week has progressed, and it's mostly because of the visceral reaction from the fans and the similarly-visceral reaction from John Coppolella to any rumors that a potential trade of Freeman would signal a tank. As a result, it doesn't appear that the Braves will be trading Freeman anytime soon, and they may have poisoned the well when it comes to trading him at any point this offseason.

Are the Braves intentionally removing Freeman from the market now knowing how trading him would negatively influence any remaining attempts to lure ticket buyers? Do they believe that they will have a better excuse for trading him if they’re 20 games out of a playoff spot in July? Will there be more of a feeding frenzy if the usual suspects are pursuing Freeman, as well as the possibility that surprise contenders jump into a summer fray they tacitly avoid in the winter? Are they waiting until Freeman pulls a Roy Halladay, says enough with the team loyalty, being the good soldier and suffering in silence and asks out? Is it all of the above?

Where the extrapolation and interpretation begins and ends largely hinges on who’s talking and who’s listening. There is a distinct possibility that the Braves tossed Freeman’s name out there to several clubs as a negotiable commodity and some executives whispered that to the original source of the "shopping" story, Ken Rosenthal. The Braves very well could have misjudged what the reaction to their trade of Simmons would be and, once the backlash hit home, they decided to back off on clearing the decks entirely and moving Freeman out.

MLB NEWS

Donaldson and Harper win AL and NL MVP Awards, respectively

Baseball's award season hit its climax on Thursday evening with the announcement of the AL and NL MVP award winners, and there were no shocks. Josh Donaldson edged out Mike Trout for the AL MVP award, while Bryce Harper was unanimously voted as the NL MVP. Donaldson was one of the main catalysts for the Blue Jays' return to relevancy and run to the ALCS, while Bryce Harper was seemingly on fire for the entirety of the 2015 season. Harper absolutely deserved his unanimous vote, even if he pronounces the word 'meme' like a weirdo.