NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Braves general manager Frank Wren sparked the Hot Stove season on Thursday with the signing of outfielder B.J. Upton. He followed this move by positioning himself for another significant acquisition by trading Tommy Hanson.
Motivated by the belief that the Braves can improve on this past season's 94-win performance, Wren has been quite active over the course of the past month. He landed his top target with the signing of Upton, and now has his sights set on finding another outfielder, preferably one who can bat in the leadoff spot.
There is certainly a chance Wren could acquire an additional outfielder during this week's Winter Meetings, which begin on Monday at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville. The events of this four-day event will be chronicled and updated on a regular basis on both MLB.com and braves.com.
When Wren traded Hanson to the Angels in exchange for right-handed reliever Jordan Walden, he added depth to his bullpen and created an opening for either Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado to begin the 2013 season in Atlanta's rotation.
But the immediate effect of the trade comes courtesy of the nearly $4 million of payroll flexibility that it created. Now, the Braves have a little more than $10 million to spend as they attempt to add an outfielder and possibly strengthen their bench with the addition of a veteran.
Wren made this offseason's biggest splash when he gave Upton a five-year, $75.25 million contract. His search for another outfielder could lead him back to either the trade or free-agent market. Shane Victorino, Cody Ross and Angel Pagan are among the most attractive free-agent outfielders who could end up in Atlanta.
If the D-backs arrive at the Meetings and once again make it known that Justin Upton will be available via trade, the Braves will at least be willing to listen. They're not interested in parting ways with their young phenom shortstop Andrelton Simmons to get a deal done though.
But the Braves might be willing to include Teheran or Delgado in some kind of creative deal that could bring the Arizona outfielder to Atlanta to add to an outfield that already includes his talented brother and Gold Glove right fielder Jason Heyward.
Be sure to check MLB.com and braves.com regularly this week to keep up with the news that develops and to discuss some of the moves you believe the club should make in preparation for the 2013 season.