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As Trade Deadline nears, Wren evaluates options

WAS View Full Game Coverage HINGTON -- There is no doubt the Braves would like to add Brewers ace Zack Greinke or another top-flight starting pitcher before the July 31 Trade Deadline. But as this next week unfolds, general manager Frank Wren will also continue to evaluate ways to satisfy his team's other needs.

"Pitching is at a premium," Wren said. "It's so hard to get pitching because there are a limited amount of guys. There are a lot of guys being bantered around out there, and they're not really available because teams have not determined whether they're in or out. In some cases, they haven't determined whether they can sign them or not. It's really a tough market."

The Braves recently inquired about Jon Lester before learning the Red Sox are among the many teams not willing to fall into the seller's market quite yet. The same can be said of James Shields and any of the Rays' starting pitchers that could draw attention on the trade market.

"There are so many teams within striking distance," Wren said. "Whether they legitimately feel like they're in it or not, they owe it to their fans and their players to hang in there to see what happens."

While the Braves have been among the teams linked to Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster, they appear to be much more interested in Greinke or another ace who could match up against the kind of starting pitching that they might encounter during the playoffs.

With this being said, the Braves are not going to mortgage their future if they feel Greinke would be nothing more than a two-month rental. The 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner will be eligible for free agency at the end of this season and will be looking for a contract similar to the five-year, $112.5 million contract Matt Cain recently received.

Whether or not the Braves acquire Greinke before the Deadline, there is reason to believe they will be bidding to have him anchor their rotation beyond this year. They have the necessary financial resources and those closest to the 28-year-old pitcher say he has a desire to pitch in Atlanta.

The Braves are among the many teams in the market for a relief pitcher, and Wren's motivation to improve his bench might be influenced by the fact that Matt Diaz, his club's top right-handed pinch-hitter, might miss the remainder of the season with a right thumb ailment.

The Marlins could become significant players on this year's trade market if they decide they need to cut some payroll. The Braves expressed interest in Omar Infante before last year's Deadline and they could certainly benefit from his return to their club.

Infante was one of the most valuable bench players the Braves have had in recent years. But before pulling the trigger on this deal, Wren and his staff would have to spend some time discussing whether he is worth the $4 million he would be owed in 2013.

Atlanta Braves