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Braves enter WM with ability for more splashes

Since Atlanta acquired McCann and Donaldson, other NL East clubs have added significant pieces
MLB.com @mlbbowman

ATLANTA -- Ten years after pursuing CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, the Braves are returning to Las Vegas once again hoping to land an ace.

Well actually, Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos and his staff will be looking for more than an ace when this year's Winter Meetings open Monday at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. The pursuit of an outfielder and a potential closer will also be extended during what should be an action-packed four-day event.

ATLANTA -- Ten years after pursuing CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, the Braves are returning to Las Vegas once again hoping to land an ace.

Well actually, Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos and his staff will be looking for more than an ace when this year's Winter Meetings open Monday at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. The pursuit of an outfielder and a potential closer will also be extended during what should be an action-packed four-day event.

"We're not close to anything," Anthopoulos said. "There are some things we'd love to get done. We just can't line up on a trade or a free-agent contract right now. I'd say all we're doing now is continuing to have conversations."

Hot Stove Tracker

With all of baseball's top executives and a bevy of agents present, the Winter Meetings annually serve as fertile ground for conversations, some of which create juicy rumors and others from which significant deals are eventually struck.

Anthopoulos acquired his primary target when catcher Brian McCann's willingness to accept a one-year, $2 million offer influenced the opportunity to sign former American League MVP Award winner Josh Donaldson to a one-year, $23 million contract. The Mets (Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano), Nationals (Patrick Corbin) and Phillies (Jean Segura) have since made the National League East even more intriguing with their own significant acquisitions.

Atlanta has the financial and prospect resources to make at least one more significant deal that could bolster a bid to defend its division crown.

Video: Donaldson on signing a 1-year deal with the Braves

Club needs
Anthopoulos has actively pursued outfielders capable of adding some more pop to a lineup that already includes Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Donaldson. Michael Brantley is a potential multiyear option. Andrew McCutchen, Nick Markakis and Carlos Gonzalez are potential short-term options. The trade market may eventually create an opportunity to gain another short-term target like Yasiel Puig.

Once Diaz went to the Mets, the Braves began facing the fact they may not find a legit closer, but they continue to seek late-inning options. It appears their need for a front-line starter will most likely be satisfied via trade. Marcus Stroman is an option if the Blue Jays eventually opt to deal him. Sonny Gray has also been discussed. But for now, Madison Bumgarner does not appear to be a primary option.

Video: MLB Tonight on teams looking to acquire Bumgarner

Whom might they trade?
Beyond their talent-rich prospect pool, the Braves have a few big league pieces that could be moved. Acuna's capability to play center field at least allows Atlanta to listen if teams are willing to provide a front-line starter in a deal that would include three-time Gold Glove Award winner Ender Inciarte. As with Inciarte, the Braves aren't actively trying to move Dansby Swanson or Ozzie Albies. But Johan Camargo's presence at least creates the option for them to be moved if necessary.

Prospects to know 
Many teams have expressed interest in Kyle Wright, who has the highest upside of the seven Braves pitchers who are listed among MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects. Mike Soroka's right shoulder and Luiz Gohara's forgettable 2018 season have altered their respective trade values, and Touki Toussaint's walk rate concerns potential suitors. But with Wright, Ian Anderson and Bryse Wilson, Atlanta has the prospect pieces needed to potentially deal from an area of strength.

Video: Top Prospects: Kyle Wright, RHP, Braves

Rule 5 Draft
The Braves will likely make a move on their 40-man roster to allow for the chance to be players during Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. Infielder Ray-Patrick Didder and right-hander Josh Graham are Atlanta prospects who can potentially be lost during the Major League phase of the Draft.

Payroll summary
Braves chairman Terry McGuirk has said the club has the financial resources necessary to make at least one more significant investment this offseason. Team officials have said the payroll has increased. Specific figures have not been revealed, but it's believed Anthopoulos still has at least $30 million left to spend.

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

Atlanta Braves, Josh Donaldson, Brian McCann