2010 Winter Meetings: Rumored Deals That Could Strenghten The Atlanta Braves
The Winter Meetings are underway, along with its abundance of rumors and free agent signings. The Braves have already made some major moves this offseason, with their acquisition of Dan Uggla. Scott Linebrink also became a Brave earlier this week, and he will serve as a mentor to a young, but talented Atlanta bullpen.
After making some major moves to start off the offseason, Frank Wren may choose to remain quiet and hang his hat on the current Atlanta roster. But with several question marks clearly hanging for the Braves, primarily in the bullpen and the outfield, Wren may find some small deals that could strengthen the team for 2011 and beyond.
Tony Gwynn, Jr. at 1 Year/$500K
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Junior isn't the hitter that his daddy was, but he is still a quality baseball player that can contribute to a winning team. His numbers were significantly down in 2010, but his career batting average is .244 and he plays great defense in the outfield. He could be a fourth outfielder who could compete with Nate McLouth for the center field position in Spring Training.
Gwynn could be a valuable asset to an Atlanta team that lacks a true speedster in their lineup as well as off the bench. Gwynn could be a great weapon to have running the bases late in games, and could play a Melky Cabrera-like role in 2011 for the Braves.
Reggie Willits (via Trade) Second-Year Arbitration Eligible
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Reggie Willits has defined himself as a defense-based outfielder who has great speed and no power. In almost 1000 career at bats, he has 40 stolen bases, a .264 batting average, and zero home runs. Willits will likely make less than $1M through arbitration for 2011, so he could be a player acquired through a trade for little to nothing.
The obvious scenario for Willits if he comes to Atlanta would be as a fourth outfielder and possibly a platoon partner with Nate McLouth in center field. It seems like a logical choice, as the need for defensive outfielders is always preeminent.
Proposed Trade Chip: Cash Considerations.
Jesse Crain at 2 Years/$6.5M
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Jesse Crain is a veteran power-pitcher that many teams are eying on the free agent market this winter. He could be another valuable set-up arm to a bullpen that has just added Scott Linebrink, another pitcher coming out of the American League Central. Frank Wren may be content with the bullpen pieces he features now, but adding a guy like Crain could be very valuable.
The Braves' front office may have switched their attention from bullpen to outfield after acquiring Linebrink from the White Sox, but piling on another veteran arm to a young bullpen could be beneficial during the dog days next summer.
Fred Lewis at 1 Year/$700K
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Fred Lewis has drawn interest from several teams already this winter after being non-tendered, and the Braves may very well be one of those teams. He has just limited playing lime in center field, but may be better used as a fourth outfielder with speed and power off of the bench. With a career batting average of .272 and solid extra-base numbers throughout his big-league life, Lewis could possibly slide into the left field position with Prado learning to play center.
Lewis could be a cheap, effective player on the Atlanta roster for next season. He provided consistency, power, speed and solid outfield play. He may be a hot commodity so far this December, but Lewis will almost certainly sign with a team that can offer significant playing time.
Lorenzo Cain (via Trade) Pre-Arbitration Eligible
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Lorenzo Cain is an extremely talented young outfielder, and it is no surprise to see that the Braves jumped when they heard that he may be available. With a solid bat and plus speed, Cain is projected to be a Major League center fielder within the next few years. He played errorless ball and hit .306 after a mid-season call-up in 2010.
Cain may or may not realistically be on the market, as a talented young player like him may want to be held on to. However, Atlanta can provide valuable young arms to a Milwaukee team that is desperate for pitching. The risk could be great for both sides, but trades that involve swapping young talent for young talent usually don't happen. Teams usually try to stick with the players they have instead of taking a chance on another organization's players.
Proposed Trade Chip: Jair Jurrjens