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Braves may look to deal from pitching surplus

Club's talented young arms could fire up Hot Stove talks

ATLANTA -- Braves general manager John Coppolella has made it crystal clear that he has absolutely no desire to trade Freddie Freeman at any point this offseason. At the same time, he has provided strong indication that both Shelby Miller and Julio Teheran will still be a part of the starting rotation in 2016.

The Braves would certainly like to move Michael Bourn or Nick Swisher, and they would likely eat some money to do so. But with uncertainty surrounding the demand for Bourn and Swisher, Cameron Maybin might end up being the odd man out as Atlanta attempts to clean its cluttered list of outfield candidates.

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Maybin alone will not warrant much of a return on the trade market. But the Braves could opt to package the rejuvenated outfielder with at least one of their many highly-regarded pitching prospects to gain a strong return.

"I think that we have shown we are open to anything and that we are not afraid," Coppolella said. "I think you can look at prospects as being a kind of currency."

The Braves have certainly enhanced the value of their pitching prospect market over the course of the past year. Pitchers account for 11 of the top 14 spots on the club's Top 30 Prospects list, and 10 of those 11 pitchers have been acquired since the end of the 2014 season.

As the Braves have compiled this abundance of arms, they have done so with the understanding that there is a good chance that just two or three of these young hurlers develop to the point where they play a significant role as a starting pitcher.

Mike Foltynewicz and Matt Wisler spent this summer reminding us why teams must remain patient while getting a feel for even the most valued young pitchers. The hope is that reward proves as profitable as the one the Braves gained approximately 25 years ago, when they realized the benefit of having a group of young pitchers that included Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Steve Avery, Kent Mercker and Pete Smith.

Like there was a time when some might have projected Avery to have a brighter future than Glavine or Smoltz, there are some who now look at Atlanta's group of young pitchers and debate whether Wisler, Sean Newcomb, Touki Toussaint, Kolby Allard, Max Fried, Lucas Sims or even Ricardo Sanchez might end up providing the greatest value as Major Leaguers.

Newcomb, Toussaint and Allard are all listed among's Top 100 Prospects. At the end of the 2014 regular season, the Braves' top two pitching prospects were the still highly-regarded Sims and Jason Hursh, who now ranks as the club's No. 19 prospect.

By compiling this abundance of pitching, the Braves have created depth to overcome injuries and the inevitable decline of some of these hurlers. But at the same time, they've created an opportunity to trade from this abundance to strengthen areas of need in the future.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
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