Grading Atlanta Braves Moves So Far This Offseason
The Atlanta Braves continue to methodically approach their offseason as they quietly go about their business.
While many fans are anxious for the Braves to make more "splash" moves, general manager Frank Wren is patiently going through the process.
And this offseason looked to be one of retaining and building rather than adding.
To this point, these have been the majority of the moves the Braves have made.
Stay tuned, however, as the Braves have been popping up in rumors to add pitching and more depth.
Until then, here's a look at the grades for the moves Wren has made so far in this offseason.
1. Agree to Deal with Ramiro Pena
The Atlanta Braves and Ramiro Pena avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal (Braves did not disclose the financial terms).
Pena proved to be a valuable commodity as a switch-hitter who was capable of playing three infield positions in his 50 games in 2013.
His .278/.330/.443 was icing on the cake.
The Braves must not be too worried about him bouncing back from his shoulder injury that ended his season as they non-tendered backup infielders Paul Janish and Elliot Johnson.
This was a great move to bring back Pena on a one-year deal.
He proved to be a capable utility infielder with the ability to spot start.
I give this deal an A.
2. Agree to Deal with Jonny Venters
The Braves and Jonny Venters also avoided an arbitration hearing by agreeing to a one-year deal (Rumored to be $1.625 million).
Venters' future with the organization looked cloudy heading into the offseason as he underwent his second Tommy John surgery and likely won't be ready for Opening Day in 2014.
However, there's no denying that Venters has one of the most devastating pitches in baseball with his heavy sinker when he's healthy.
If he does return to form, the Braves will have a bargain and should have the top bullpen in baseball once again.
If not, this signing will be questioned.
I'll give it a B on the basis of his potential effectiveness in comparison to other relievers Wren could sign on the market for that price.
3. Agree to Deal with Jordan Walden
Wren made a key trade to acquire right-handed reliever Jordan Walden in the 2012 offseason, and he saw enough to bring him back in 2014.
Likewise to Pena and Venters, the Braves and Walden avoided arbitration with a one-year deal worth $1.49 million.
Walden was a huge addition in 2013 with the injuries to Venters and Eric O'Flaherty as he proved to be a reliable set-up man with a 3.45 ERA in 50 appearances.
However, Walden suffered a groin injury in August that lingered into the postseason, and he never really recovered in time.
With a quirky delivery, I have my concerns about Walden being able to stay healthy. That is based on nothing other than that delivery and my gut feeling.
Because of that and nearly tripling his salary from last season to this season, I'll give Wren a C+ on this one.
4. Sign Mat Gamel
For baseball junkies, the name Mat Gamel likely rang a bell when the Braves announced they signed the 28-year-old to a minor league contract.
Gamel was a highly touted prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers organization who looked to be Prince Fielders replacement at first base.
However, Gamel tore his anterior cruciate ligament in May 2012 and then again at the start of spring training in 2013.
In his last full season, Gamel hit .310 with 28 home runs with triple-A Nashville.
Obviously the Braves aren't counting on Gamel to be a starter, but he does have outstanding upside.
There really is no downside to this signing. He could be a huge addition on the bench as a first baseman or third baseman.
If not, it is only a minor league contract, and no harm is done.
I see this as a "no-loss" move and give it an A.