Braves move forward after latest round of trades
PHILADELPHIA -- Given how many moves they have made dating back to the end of last season, it was assumed the Braves would at least get their fix by making more before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline passed.
But as Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez prepared for Friday night's game against the Phillies, he experienced the oddity of having a roster that was essentially the same as it had been on Thursday night. None of his veterans had been traded and the roster alteration came via the addition of Williams Perez, who came off the disabled list to fill the rotation spot previously held by the recently-traded Alex Wood.
"It's nice to keep those guys who have been around a little bit and extend that enthusiasm we've had going here," Gonzalez said.
Unfortunately some of that enthusiasm has evaporated as the Braves have lost 14 of 18 since getting their record back to the .500 mark on July 7. During this stretch, they have officially morphed into rebuilding mode by trading five key members of their Major League club -- Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan and Wood.
Most of the moves made over the past 10 months have focused on strengthening the club's pipeline with future assets. But Thursday's trade that sent Johnson, Wood, Avilan and top prospect Jose Peraza, provided a more immediate benefit in the form of Hector Olivera, a 30-year-old Cuban who is slated to play third base and protect Freddie Freeman in the middle of the lineup.
"I think [Braves president of baseball operations] John Hart and crew are doing an outstanding job,"outfielder Jonny Gomes said. "I have been a part of and watched some quote, unquote rebuilds and kind of questioned it. This place is going to be electric."
Gomes and fellow veteran A.J. Pierzynski now find themselves in the rather unfamiliar position of entering the regular season's final two months with their postseason hopes resting on the possibility that they will be moved to a contender via a waiver wire deal in August.
But for now, the Braves are hoping Gomes and Pierzynski spend at least the next couple weeks continuing to provide guidance to some of the young players who are positioned to be part of what should be a much brighter future in Atlanta.
"Whether I'm moved or I continue wearing this [uniform], 100 percent doesn't affect how I play," Gomes said. "You know what you're going to get from me with any team or at any spot in the standings."
While it has reached a point the Braves might have to release Chris Johnson at some point within the next few months, they will extend their long and thus-far-unsuccessful attempt to trade him and at least a portion of the approximate $20 million he is owed through the end of the 2017 season.
The Braves also spent the past few weeks monitoring the markets for Julio Teheran and Cameron Maybin, while never planning to move either unless they gained significant value. Both could prove to be valuable pieces for the club over the next couple seasons. But at the same time, they might stand as chips the club could use to fill needs during the offseason.