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Braves use Meetings to develop camaraderie

Pitching, third base, defense remain on to-do list, but front office benefits from week of bonding
MLB.com @mlbbowman

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Alex Anthopoulos did not sign a free agent or complete a trade during this year's Winter Meetings, which concluded on Thursday morning. But as he interacted with rival executives and agents over the course of the past four days, the Braves' general manager gained a better feel for his club's needs and how he might satisfy them during the remainder of the offseason.

"Everyone knows the free-agent market and everyone knows who might be available via trade," Anthopoulos said. "Sometimes there are late developments where a player or two might come available later in the offseason. That's kind of the case right now."

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Alex Anthopoulos did not sign a free agent or complete a trade during this year's Winter Meetings, which concluded on Thursday morning. But as he interacted with rival executives and agents over the course of the past four days, the Braves' general manager gained a better feel for his club's needs and how he might satisfy them during the remainder of the offseason.

"Everyone knows the free-agent market and everyone knows who might be available via trade," Anthopoulos said. "Sometimes there are late developments where a player or two might come available later in the offseason. That's kind of the case right now."

Hot Stove Tracker

The Braves came to the Winter Meetings intent on monitoring the third-base market and potential opportunities to add experience to both their bullpen and rotation. But at the same time, this was a chance for Anthopoulos to bond with the staff he has assembled and inherited since arriving from the Dodgers to become the head of the Braves' baseball-operations department on Nov. 13.

"There was a lot of work and a lot of late hours," Braves assistant GM Perry Minasian said. "There's not a lot of down time here. You have a hundred balls in the air and you hope a couple of them fall your way. But I think this was about more than just player acquisition for us. I think it was bonding and team building from a front-office-infrastructure standpoint."

As the Braves move forward, they will continue to get a sense for what they might do with Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis, the two corner outfielders who could be traded this offseason to make room for top prospects and possibly another outfielder who could be acquired.

Anthopoulos has made it clear he wants to improve the team's defense in an attempt to enhance the potential value of his young pitching staff. As things stand, the starting rotation would consist of Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, Luiz Gohara, Sean Newcomb and a to-be-determined fifth starter.

While Lucas Sims and Max Fried stand as internal candidates for the fifth-starter spot, the Braves have discussed the possibility of acquiring a short-term veteran to add experience within this projected rotation, which consists of just two pitchers who have made as many as 20 career starts.

There is also a chance the Braves will attempt to acquire a front-line starter within the next season. But for now, Anthopoulos seems intent on first evaluating the impressive young pitching crop that exists within the system.

Along with possibly adding a reliever, the Braves will likely attempt to add at least one bench player before heading to Spring Training. Their bench needs will be influenced by whether they decide to utilize Johan Camargo as their starting third baseman or acquire a veteran to handle the hot corner.

The pool of available third basemen increased on Tuesday, when the Padres acquired Chase Headley from the Yankees and made it clear he might be flipped within the next few weeks or months. Headley's presence also creates the possibility San Diego will move Yangervis Solarte, who seemingly possesses greater trade value.

Rule 5 Draft
The Braves selected right-handed reliever Anyelo Gomez from the Yankees' system with the seventh pick of the first round of the Major League phase. Gomez will come to camp with a chance to earn a spot within Atlanta's bullpen. In the first round of the Triple-A phase, the Braves lost catcher Joe Odom to the Mariners. They also added organizational depth by taking first baseman Skyler Ewing from the Giants in the first round and shortstop Tyler Smith from the Rangers in the second round.

GM's bottom line
"You are still trying to balance the offseason, and you feel like the train has left the station and you're running behind it to try to get caught up. Getting here, I feel like I finally grabbed the pole and we're on it."
-- Anthopoulos, on how his comfort level has steadily improved since joining the Braves.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves