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Simmons hot topic as Braves exit GM Meetings

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- As Braves general manager John Coppolella exited the General Managers Meetings on Thursday morning, the baseball world was buzzing about the possibility that he might extend his ways as an aggressive wheeler and dealer by trading Andrelton Simmons.

Whether Simmons ends up being the next big piece traded by Atlanta remains to be seen. But the Braves recognize that the talented shortstop remains one of their few remaining pieces who could bring a significant return.

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Coppolella did not specifically address the rumors surrounding Simmons. But he did acknowledge that Atlanta is at a point in its rebuilding process where the franchise must evaluate every trade possibility that has the potential to positively impact the club's future for many years to come.

"We're an organization that lost [95] games," Coppolella said in reference to this past season's 67-95 record. "We need to be open to considering anything that makes us better. For us, we aren't looking to trade any of our players. But I think when you look at some of the teams that were in the playoffs and World Series, you will see the benefits they gained from making tough trades a few years ago."

The Royals likely would not have won this year's World Series had they not used Zack Greinke to acquire Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar in 2010. Nor would the Mets have likely won the National League pennant had they not sold high on R.A. Dickey after the 2012 season and gained both Noah Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud in return.

"We need to be cognizant of the fact that there might be opportunities out there that we weren't aware of," Coppolella said. "The more we can explore and leave no stone unturned, the better position we're going to put the Braves' organization in going forward."

The Padres and at least one other NL West club inquired about Simmons earlier this week. Once word leaked out late Wednesday night, a few other teams contacted the Braves about Simmons' availability.

The Braves have made it clear that they will not trade Simmons unless they gain a significant return.

Over the course of the past year, the Braves used Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis to strengthen their farm system and gain an abundance of pitching prospects. Simmons, Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran now stand as Atlanta's only Major League-ready trade pieces that could gain a significant return.

But the Braves have never provided any indication they are willing to trade Freeman, and they would likely be selling low on Teheran at this point. Thus Simmons stands as the most likely member of this trio who could be moved at some point this offseason.

Simmons was named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday night, and earlier this week, Coppolella referred to the 26-year-old shortstop as "the greatest defensive player in the history of the game." Since the start of the 2013 season, Simmons has a Major League-best 94 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). Former Braves right fielder Heyward ranks second with 69. Cincinnati's Zack Cozart and San Francisco's Brandon Crawford are tied for second among NL shortstops during this span with 30.

Though Simmons' offensive potential remains questionable, there is no doubt that he provides enough value with his glove to influence a team to make a strong offer to Atlanta.

The Braves will just have to determine how much it will truly take for them to be persuaded to move the popular shortstop.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
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