Atlanta Braves Rumors: Latest Chatter Around Offseason Moves

Matt PowersCorrespondent IIOctober 30, 2012

Atlanta Braves Rumors: Latest Chatter Around Offseason Moves

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    With the World Series in the books and the calendar about to turn to November, attention now turns to the Hot Stove league.

    With the Braves coming off a second consecutive strong season followed by a disappointing ending there could be some changes to the roster, especially considering the way the club chose not to make any moves last winter.

    Considering the team just removed a huge chunk of money from the books when Chipper Jones retired and Derek Lowe's contract ended, there could be some money to play with this winter. This article takes a look at some of the latest rumors floating around that deal with the Braves.

Sign Nick Swisher

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    If the Braves decide to move Martin Prado to third base full-time in an effort to replace Chipper Jones, one candidate to look at is Nick Swisher of the New York Yankees.

    Swisher, who is a free agent this winter, hit .272 with 24 homers and 93 RBI this year, and has hit at least 20 homers in each of his eight full seasons in the big leagues.

    While Swisher struggled down the stretch for the Yankees this year, the fact remains that he is a solid veteran capable of putting up quality numbers and being a solid clubhouse guy. Another thing in his favor is that he offers versatility, as he could play either corner outfield spot as well as first base.

    Swisher isn't a big bat, but he's a very solid No. 6 hitter and a guy that could help team chemistry, something that could factor into any decision with the departure of Chipper Jones.

Re-Signing David Ross

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    David Ross may be the best backup catcher in the game, and if he isn't then he is among the top group without a doubt.

    The fact that he's strong with the bat and the glove really gives the Braves a weapon off the bench at a position where you frequently use a backup.

    According to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the Braves would like to re-sign the veteran backup.

    With Brian McCann dealing with some injuries in recent years and potentially missing the start of the 2013 season, per MLB.com's Mark Bowman, as he recovers from shoulder surgery, Ross becomes more important than ever to the Braves.

    FOX's Ken Rosenthal is reporting that there is no guarantee Ross will return to the club, as the Braves could have some competition for Ross.

    This is really a situation to watch, as the loss of a key veteran at a position of need without any internal candidates to replace him would really hurt.

Trade for Josh Willingham

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    While the Twins do not need to trade Josh Willingham, as he is signed to an affordable contract and produced a monster 2012 season, there have been rumors flying all season about him being on the block.

    With the Twins being awful and really needing rotation help, they would need to at least consider an offer for Willingham.

    This year Willingham hit .260 with 35 homers and 110 RBI in a career year. This may surprise some, but if you take a closer look at his career stats it really shouldn't.

    In 2011 Willingham hit 29 homers while playing in just 136 games for Oakland, and he is a career .483 slugger with an average of 29 homers if you average his career numbers over 162 games per season.

    Willingham won't be cheap because he is signed through the 2014 season at a very reasonable $7 million per year, which makes him even more valuable to the cost-conscious Twins. 

    Still he could be had without giving up the farm and would slot in well in left field with Martin Prado moving to third base.

Dealing a Young Pitcher for a Bat

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    Today it was reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX that the Braves have exercised their 2013 options on pitchers Paul Maholm and Tim Hudson.

    They will join a collection of arms that already includes Tommy Hanson, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen as proven arms and youngsters with potential like Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran, not to mention Sean Gilmartin and JR Graham as well as non-tender candidate Jair Jurrjens.

    That means the Braves suddenly have eight candidates including Beachy, who will miss a big chunk of the year recovering from Tommy John surgery, for five rotation spots. The Braves won't be able to find a spot for all of these guys, so trading one or two makes sense.

    The Braves could deal some of their pitching depth to acquire either a third baseman or left fielder, depending on their plans for Martin Prado, or center field if Michael Bourn departs via free agency.

    Some candidates for a trade would include Rangers third base prospect Mike Olt, Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos, Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus or even Rockies third base prospect Nolan Arenado.

Signing BJ Upton

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    If Michael Bourn leaves as a free agent this winter, the Braves would have some options. The Braves have a chance to pursue a talented veteran with name value such as BJ Upton, Shane Victorino or Denard Span, the first two of which are free agents and Span is in a tradeable position.

    The Braves could also pursue a younger and cheaper guy such as Ben Revere or Peter Bourjos, who are each on teams that have extra depth in center field.

    The guy I like the most is BJ Upton. Upton has speed and power, and there are many that believe that he has yet to reach his full potential.

    The 28 year-old former No. 1 overall pick is only a career .255 hitter with a .336 on-base percentage, but over the last two seasons he has hit 51 homers with 159 RBI and 67 steals while playing solid defense in center.

    Upton may not be the same type of threat as Bourn as a leadoff hitter because of his on-base skills, but his power gives him a different dimension to his game and he can also run well enough to be a solid leadoff hitter.