Morning Chop: A Summary of Braves’ News
FW enters his walk year
[Editorial Note: Some of us at TT agree, and offered our thoughts HERE]
Fredi is not the only member of the Braves’ hierarchy working on the final year of his contract. FW’s contract also expires after this season, though I suspect he’s a safe bet to be extended — unlike many among the team’s young core.
But should he be?
It’s difficult to judge. Under Wren’s leadership, the Braves restocked what had become a barren farm system following the disastrous Tex(as) trade, and he’s made some nifty trades, acquiring Michael Bourn and Javier Vazquez for almost nothing. He dealt Edgar Renteria at just the right time — ditto with Tommy Hanson. And even though he struggled last season, Justin Upton — owed 28.5 mil over the next two years — is a bargain in this market.
But Wren has also made some well-publicized blunders: Lowe, McLouth, Kawakami, B.J. and, of course, Uggla. Barring a turnaround by B.J., those are five big missteps, ones that a team with tight purse strings can’t afford. One-third of the Braves’ payroll is tied up on two players who hit under .200 last year.
Beachy confident in regaining health for camp
ATLANTA — Brandon Beachy was overwhelmed with frustration this past summer. As the Braves pitcher neared the end of his journey back from Tommy John surgery, he experienced more elbow discomfort and ultimately had to undergo a “clean-up” surgery in late September.
But this offseason has provided Beachy encouragement and further reason to believe he will be at full strength when the Braves begin Spring Training in February. He regained full range of motion with his elbow in late October and has continued to make progress. Last week, Beachy was cleared to begin performing exercises to re-strengthen his upper body and shoulder.
Beachy expects to begin throwing in early January.
“I’m going to use some guidelines at first to help ease into throwing, but otherwise it’s a normal offseason routine,” Beachy said.
The Braves Have Been Quiet So Far, and That is Perfectly Fine
[Editorial Note: Wow, is someone out there reading our articles at TT? Jeff? :-)]
The Braves have not had an exciting start to the offseason. So far they have lost two of the most respected players on the team to free agency and have really only offered players arbitration and settled on one year deals with Jonny Venters and Ramiro Pena, two players who were out for a majority of last season.
Meanwhile, the Nationals just made what seems to me like a heist for one of the games more underrated starters in Doug Fister. While that division rival attempts to bounce back after a rough 2013, other teams such as the Mets and Marlins have at least been working on or signing deals on relatively bigger named free agents. All of this has occurred while, as previously mentioned, the Braves have been standing put.
And that is a perfectly fine thing for the Braves to do. The team has its starting eight players already set up, aside from potentially trading Dan Uggla. In what is likely going to look more like a salary dump than anything else, the Braves probably have all eight of their starters on opening day in the organization.
NL Notes: Braves, Cubs, Phillies, Pirates, Mets
After the departures of Brian McCann and Tim Hudson, the Braves have needs, and may not have much money available to meet them, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes in a long essay about what to expect from the Braves in the coming weeks. They could try to trade for a pitcher like Jeff Samardzija, John Lackey or Kyle Lohse, or they could sign Bartolo Colon. Colon is an appealing option for the Braves, O’Brien says, because his age makes him unlikely to receive a huge contract. The Braves also hope to trade Dan Uggla to clear salary. Here are more notes from around the National League.
Nats eyeing Downs to fill lefty-reliever void
The Nationals are in need of left-handed relievers, and MLB.com has learned that the team has expressed interest in Scott Downs, who played for the Expos from 2000-04. A baseball source said the Nats have inquired about Downs at least twice. It’s not known what kind of contract Downs is seeking.
Downs, 37, was a starter when he played for Montreal, but since leaving the organization, Downs has become valuable left-handed specialist for the Blue Jays, Angels and Braves. Last season, Downs had a combined 2.59 ERA for the Angels and Braves in 43 games, while left-handers hit .259 against him.
Nationals still looking for a lefty, interested in Eric O’Flaherty
If the Nationals do not sign a left-handed reliever off the free agent market, it will not be for lack of a broad search.
The latest name to add to the list of southpaws the Nationals have expressed interest in, a person familiar with the situation said, is Eric O’Flaherty, a dominant Braves reliever coming off elbow reconstruction surgery.