LAS VEGAS -- Having seen their talented young core prove to be advanced enough to win the National League East in 2018, the Braves understand signing Michael Brantley or paying the prospect price necessary to obtain one of the Tribe's starters may help counteract what their division rivals might gain
LAS VEGAS -- Having seen their talented young core prove to be advanced enough to win the National League East in 2018, the Braves understand signing Michael Brantley or paying the prospect price necessary to obtain one of the Tribe's starters may help counteract what their division rivals might gain from their additions in '19.
But while the Braves remain committed to doing whatever necessary to defend their division title, they also understand the need to protect the potential value of their rebuild beyond the upcoming season.
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"I think every front office weighs that, short term and long term," Braves assistant general manager Perry Minasian said. "There's a cause and effect. In our situation, we feel we have the makings of a club that can be competitive for a long time. We're very cognizant of what we did last year, and we're going to try to do it again next year with the long-term picture always in the back of our minds.
"We walked into a really good situation with a quality young system and quality young players on the big league club. To go all in for one specific year for how we're set up, we don't think is the best way to go. But we're working hard and trying to improve this club. We feel it's a competitive club. We've got a chance to win here."
Because general manager Alex Anthopoulos traveled to Denver to attend Liberty Media Corporation meetings that were scheduled long before he arrived in Las Vegas for this week's Winter Meetings, Minasian handled Wednesday's media session. But Anthopoulos remained in constant contact with his aides, who continued to meet with agents and rival executives in an effort to fill the team's need for a front-line starting pitcher, an outfielder and bullpen depth.
While Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer might both be available for the right price, the Indians seem more willing to deal Bauer, who projects to be more expensive than Kluber in 2020 and '21. But the Braves are not currently engaged in talks regarding either of these two Cleveland starters.
In order to acquire three years' worth of Kluber, an industry source has suggested the cost may be top prospects Cristian Pache, Austin Riley and Touki Toussaint. Yes, it's intriguing to place a two-time American League Cy Young Award winner in a rotation that currently counts Mike Foltynewicz as its top starter. But the Braves must weigh the effect of removing Riley and Pache from their plans beyond the 2019 season. The two stand with Drew Waters as the organization's only top-flight position-player prospects.
Looking to satisfy their wish to add a front-line starter, the Braves will continue to monitor what the Yankees would want for Sonny Gray. They'll also monitor whether the Blue Jays eventually become interested in moving Marcus Stroman. Any lingering thoughts about the potential of adding Madison Bumgarner have evaporated as the Giants now seem to think it would be better to deal him before next summer's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
As the Braves look for a starter and bullpen depth, they are cognizant of the fact their rotation or relief corps may benefit from the re-emergence of a healthy and seemingly committed Luiz Gohara, who has dropped more than 20 pounds this offseason. Freddie Freeman viewed Gohara as a potential All-Star before the young lefty began dealing with a rash of injuries influenced by last winter's lost offseason.
While the Braves checked in on Brantley during the early portion of this offseason, they do not seem willing to commit more than two years to the former AL MVP Award candidate, who has totaled more than 90 games just once in the past three seasons. Their search for an outfielder will lead them to continue evaluating trade options, which include Yasiel Puig. They will also remain open to the possibility of providing a one- or two-year deal to Nick Markakis or Carlos Gonzalez.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.