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Braves' roster quietly undergoing changes

MLB.com @mlbbowman

ATLANTA -- This has certainly been a unique offseason for the Braves, who were neutralized by the lengthy MLB investigation that led them to gain new leadership within the baseball-operations department.

But though general manager Alex Anthopoulos has been in place to run this department for less than a month, the Braves have continued to do business and keep up with the unavoidable annual offseason ritual of reconstructing the roster.

ATLANTA -- This has certainly been a unique offseason for the Braves, who were neutralized by the lengthy MLB investigation that led them to gain new leadership within the baseball-operations department.

But though general manager Alex Anthopoulos has been in place to run this department for less than a month, the Braves have continued to do business and keep up with the unavoidable annual offseason ritual of reconstructing the roster.

With much of the recent focus centering around Anthopoulos' arrival and the sanctions delivered at the conclusion of the investigation, it might have been easy to forget all that has occurred since the Braves concluded the 2017 season.

Hot Stove Tracker

So with the Winter Meetings beginning next week, here is a recap of how the roster has changed over the past two months.

Option decisions
R.A. Dickey was hinting at retirement before the Braves opted in October to not exercise his $8 million option for the 2018 season. The 43-year-old knuckleballer led Atlanta in innings pitched and posted the best ERA among the team's qualified starters in '17. His leadership and experience will be missed within a young rotation that has lacked a legit frontline starter over the past couple seasons.

While announcing the Dickey decision, the Braves confirmed they had exercised the $4 million option for catcher Tyler Flowers, who hit .281 with 12 homers and an .823 OPS this past season. The suburban Atlanta native will once again share the catching duties with Kurt Suzuki, who hit a career-high 19 homers in 2017 and signed a one-year deal in September to remain with Atlanta.

Free agents
Dickey joined the free-agent market just ahead of Jason Motte, a veteran reliever who produced a 3.54 ERA and limited opponents to a .199 batting average over 40 2/3 innings in 2017. If the price is right, it might be worth bringing Motte back to provide leadership and some middle-inning stability to what currently stands as a young bullpen.

A potential return is likely not in the cards for Ian Krol, who opted for free agency when he didn't accept being outrighted to Triple-A Gwinnett in October. Krol constructed a 5.33 ERA over 49 innings and spent and most of August on the disabled list with what was termed a strained oblique. The team sent him to its Spring Training complex with a stern message to get in better shape.

Waiver wire
The Braves also lost Minor League catcher David Freitas, who was claimed off waivers by the Mariners, and infielder Micah Johnson, who has been claimed off waivers by three teams (Reds, Giants and Rays) this offseason.

The Braves also used the waiver wire last week to claim right-handed reliever Chase Whitley from the Rays. Whitley will be among the multi-inning options as Atlanta will likely utilize an eight-man bullpen, primarily to guard against the inexperience within its rotation.

Left-handed reliever Grant Dayton was claimed off waivers from the Dodgers, but he is expected to miss most of the 2018 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Trades
Anthopoulos hasn't made a blockbuster trade since becoming GM on Nov. 13, but he did at least cleanse his bullpen last week when Jim Johnson was traded to the Angels. The Braves included international bonus pool money to entice the Angels to assume the $5 million Johnson is owed next season.

Anthopoulos also added to the organization's bullpen's depth when he sent the Dodgers cash in exchange for right-handed reliever Josh Ravin on Nov. 20. The 29-year-old reliever is essentially a lottery ticket, as he has made just 33 career appearances.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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