Braves keeping eye out for available relievers
Club could also add catcher, third baseman, starting pitcher
ATLANTA -- At some point over the course of the next few months, the Braves will need to make some additions aimed toward realizing their goal of being better in 2016 than they were during this year's often-ugly season. But their activity during the early portion of this offseason has essentially been an extension of the rebuilding process that began last year.
By trading Andrelton Simmons to the Angels, the Braves dropped the financial risk that stands at the end of the defensive wizard's contract and also further added to their collection of highly regarded pitching prospects. Then late last week, they gained $6.5 million worth of financial flexibility by trading Cameron Maybin to the Tigers for two relievers, including Ian Krol.
The wise guess is that the Braves will use a portion of this payroll savings to satisfy their attempt to add at least a few quality arms to their bullpen. Though they still have interest in Darren O'Day -- this year's top relief target -- the demand for the right-hander is significant.
Unless O'Day provides a discount in order to get closer to some family members in Atlanta, Ryan Madson, Joakim Soria and lefty Tony Sipp stand as the more likely options for the Braves to satisfy their bullpen needs.
Though it appeared the Braves entered this offseason with a little more than $25 million available, their actions over the past couple of weeks have provided indication that their flexibility now rests at approximately $20 million.
The Braves addressed a portion of their catching needs when A.J. Pierzynski agreed to return with a one-year, $3 million deal. Now they must decide whether they want to keep Christian Bethancourt for another year or continue looking elsewhere for a catcher to share time with Pierzynski. They have discussed a possible reunion with free agent Brayan Pena, who was a part of the organization from 2000-08.
There is also a chance the Braves could have yet another reunion with Kelly Johnson, the veteran utility man who began the 2015 season in Atlanta and ended it while playing for the Mets in the World Series. Johnson would be interested in another chance to play close to his family's suburban Atlanta home.
With their current roster makeup, the Braves might be forced to provide Adonis Garcia most of the playing time at third base. But this creates obvious concerns about Garcia's defense and ability to extend his previously unfound power.
Thus, the Braves will continue exploring the trade market for a third baseman. They have also discussed the possibility of having either Johnson or Gordon Beckham share time with Garcia at third base. Beckham is an Atlanta native who became a free agent after hitting just .209 with a .607 OPS for the White Sox this year.
The Braves also have continued to explore the possibility of adding some experience to their young starting rotation. Chris Young and Bartolo Colon are among the affordable veterans they have discussed bringing to Atlanta.