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Atlanta Braves news and links: Braves are gearing up for Hot Stove season

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With guys like A.J. Pierzynski becoming free agents, we're getting closer and closer to the period of wheeling-and-dealing that is the Hot Stove season. Things are about to get interesting around here, soon.

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BRAVES NEWS

MLB Trade Rumors takes a look at the Braves' offseason outlook

The crew over at the excellent MLB Trade Rumors website is taking a glance at each team's offseason outlook, and they've come across the Braves. Just in case you aren't fully up on what the Braves could potentially be doing during this upcoming Hot Stove season, MLBTR is there to give you an idea of what Atlanta might be up to.

Entering the winter, there’s an argument to be made that Atlanta should be increasingly aggressive in free agency (after having already shown just that trait on the trade market). After all, if the team hopes to be prepared for legitimate contention in 2017, this robust free agent market might present the right moment to strike.

Having demonstrated a willingness to spend on the mid-tier market last year, in signing Markakis, players his price range certainly seem in play. Costlier additions, though, may not be forthcoming. There’s some open current and future payroll, but not a lot: the club has just under $75MM in commitments for 2016 before accounting for arbitration, and that number drops into the $50MM to $60MM range over the four seasons to follow. Even with the promise of new stadium and TV revenue, it would be dangerous to tie up too much future payroll for an organization that has started a season with a payroll over $100MM only once (2014).

Meanwhile, Mark Bowman wrote up a similar outlook over on the Braves' official website. Basically, we shouldn't expect a whirlwind of changes like what we got last year, but the Braves should still be pretty busy this winter. The intrigue will be real.

Pierzynski among four Braves-related free agents

Since baseball season is officially over now, players are becoming free agents. The chief among those from the 2015 Braves season is A.J. Pierzynski, who had a surprisingly resurgent season after taking the starting job at catcher. The Braves have expressed plenty of interest in bringing back AJP for the 2016 season, but the price will probably go up after the season that Pierzynski just had. We'll have to see if the two parties will come together to make it happen.

Lucas Sims shines in Fall League appearance

Top Braves pitching prospect Lucas Sims had himself a lovely day yesterday for the Peoria Javelinas. Sims pitched three innings, struck out four, walked none, and gave up zero hits during his appearance against the awesomely-named Mesa Solar Sox. It's always nice to see Braves prospects doing well in this venue, and it's especially nice to see Sims getting positive work done.

MLB NEWS

Nats lowball Bud Black and decide to hire Dusty Baker as manager

In hilarious news, the Washington Nationals and Bud Black cut ties with each other after the two parties had agreed in principle for a team-manager relationship. Instead, word on the street is that the Nationals offered Bud Black a one-year contract, which Black obviously refused to sign because what in the world, Washington?! Anyways, after that insulting contract offer, Black decided that Washington wasn't the best destination for him, and the Nats proceeded to turn to Dusty Baker, who immediately took whatever the Nats offered him (reportedly a two-year deal) and now he's the new manager of the Washington Nationals. Meanwhile, here's my reaction to all of this: