Braves likely won't make any major additions
After acquiring Upton brothers last season, Atlanta expects to be quieter this year
ATLANTA -- One year after fueling the Hot Stove season by signing B.J. Upton to a franchise-record contract and acquiring Justin Upton in a blockbuster trade, the Braves are approaching this offseason with the understanding that they do not necessarily need to make a significant acquisition.
The Braves will evaluate the possibility of acquiring a front-line starting pitcher via trade. At the same time, they will attempt to find a club that would be willing to acquire Dan Uggla and at least a portion of the $26 million he is owed over the final two years of his contract.
But as general manager Frank Wren looks toward the 2014 season, he is not overwhelmed by the need to make a significant number of changes. Instead, he is comforted by the fact that his club will once again include most of the key contributors that spent this summer leading the Braves to a National League East title.
"We could go to Spring Training today and we'd have a good, solid team that would be very competitive in the National League East," Wren said. "Do we want to improve it? Yes. We're an organization that is always willing to give an opportunity to our young guys."
With Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons and Evan Gattis, the Braves' lineup should include four key homegrown products who, like Justin Upton, are 27 years old or younger. Atlanta's starting rotation will likely include Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen, four more homegrown products who, like closer Craig Kimbrel, are all 28 or younger.
Most of the significant free-agent related news regarding the Braves will likely deal with the potential departures of both Brian McCann and Tim Hudson, who are among the eight Atlanta players who became free agents at the conclusion of the World Series.
While it has long been assumed McCann will be playing elsewhere next year, Hudson's future is not necessarily as clear.
Wren has said he expects to at least have some discussion with Hudson, who is nearing the final stages of recovering from the fractured right ankle he suffered in late July. But there is a definite chance that other clubs might be willing to provide a more attractive multiyear deal that could lure the 38-year-old veteran pitcher away from Atlanta.
In order to receive Draft-pick compensation, clubs must make a qualifying offer to any of its qualifying free agents by 5 p.m. ET, five days after the completion of the World Series. The player has until 5 p.m. ET on the seventh day after receiving the offer to accept, which this year is a one-year contract valued at $14.1 million.
While the Braves will almost definitely make a qualifying offer to McCann with the understanding he would likely not accept it, they would almost certainly not make the offer to Hudson, who would have plenty of reason to accept and as a result possibly double his potential salary for next season.
If a player rejects a qualifying offer and signs with another club before next year's First-Year Player Draft, his former team receives a compensation pick at the end of the first round. The signing club loses its first-round selection, unless it is a top 10 pick, in which case it would lose its next-highest selection.
Arbitration-eligible: OF Heyward, 1B Freeman, RHP Kimbrel, RHP Jordan Walden, 3B Chris Johnson, RHP Medlen, RHP Beachy, OF Jordan Schafer, LHP Jonny Venters, RHP Cristhian Martinez, INF Ramiro Pena, INF Elliot Johnson, INF Paul Janish
Free agents: C McCann, RHP Hudson, LHP Eric O'Flaherty, LHP Paul Maholm, LHP Scott Downs, RHP Luis Ayala, RHP Kameron Loe, RHP Freddy Garcia
Club options: OF Reed Johnson ($1.6 million option, $150,000 buyout)
Non-tender candidates: Venters, E. Johnson, C. Martinez and Janish
Areas of need
Starting pitching: The Braves will be among the teams that explore the option of acquiring the Rays' David Price or any other potential aces that could be acquired via a trade. With this year's free-agent market lacking a front-line starting pitcher, the demand and cost for the likes of Price will be high. So while Atlanta will show some interest in this department, Wren will likely not mortgage his future to improve a talented young rotation that could consist of Teheran, Minor, Beachy, Medlen and either Alex Wood or David Hale.
Second base: As the Braves shop Uggla, there will be some speculation about who they could replace him with at second base. There seems to be little reason to believe they would go outside the organization to fill this potential need. The top two internal candidates are Tyler Pastornicky, who is expected to make a full recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament by the start of Spring Training, or Tommy La Stella, an offensively gifted infielder who should be Major League-ready at some point next year.
Bullpen: With Luis Avilan, David Carpenter and Walden all set to return to serve as Kimbrel's primary setup men, the Braves do not have a significant need for relievers. But Wren has never shied away from the possibility of improving the depth of his bullpen via either free agency or a trade during the offseason.
2013 payroll: The Braves are expected to keep their payroll just north of $95 million. The amount of money that will be available this offseason will be influenced by Uggla's potential departure and the specific salaries awarded to the club's arbitration class, which is impressive both in terms of quantity and quality.