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Inbox: Will Braves move Gattis next?

Beat reporter Mark Bowman answers Atlanta fans' questions
MLB.com @mlbbowman

Now that Jason Heyward has been traded, do you think Evan Gattis is next? I believe the Braves could get some Major League-ready talent in return.
-- Giles Y., Rock Hill, S.C.

As I've written a couple times over the past couple weeks, the question is not whether the Braves will trade either Justin Upton or Gattis, the more intriguing unknown is whether they will end up dealing both. Given that I think they will end up doing the latter, I'd say it simply remains to be seen which player might be the next to be traded.

Now that Jason Heyward has been traded, do you think Evan Gattis is next? I believe the Braves could get some Major League-ready talent in return.
-- Giles Y., Rock Hill, S.C.

As I've written a couple times over the past couple weeks, the question is not whether the Braves will trade either Justin Upton or Gattis, the more intriguing unknown is whether they will end up dealing both. Given that I think they will end up doing the latter, I'd say it simply remains to be seen which player might be the next to be traded.

The Braves certainly had reason to be happy with the return they got for Heyward, given the fact that he might end up playing just one season in St. Louis. In exchange for a player they knew they wouldn't re-sign, they gained Shelby Miller, a middle-to-top-of-the-rotation pitcher they can control for four years, and Tyrell Jenkins, an attractive prospect who could make an impact in Atlanta's future rotations if his shoulder issues are indeed a thing of the past.

Now the Braves have to hope they can be equally pleased with the return they might get for Upton, who will also become a free agent next year. There is no doubt a Silver Slugger Award winner coming off a 29-homer, 102-RBI season is an attractive piece on the trade market. But Upton's trade value is somewhat diminished by the fact that interested clubs know they might control him for just one season.

The Braves entered the offseason knowing that any deal involving Heyward or Upton would provide them a decent return and significant payroll flexibility for the upcoming season. Gattis' situation is different given the fact that he's an arbitration-eligible player who would not be eligible for free agency until the end of the 2018 season.

There is some appeal in keeping Gattis' great power potential in Atlanta for another four years. But there is also the risk that his on-field and trade values could both take a significant hit if he proves to be a defensive liability in left field. Thoughts of keeping him as a catcher are tarnished by the fear that the inevitable fatigue created by the position will affect his offensive production. Thus it seemingly makes sense to move him to the Royals or another American League club that could utilize him as a designated hitter.

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I've read a dozen articles about how the Braves need to rebuild their pitching, and almost no mention anywhere of improving the offense. Can you help me understand the mindset?
-- Adam L., Gastonia, N.C.

While there is certainly reason to be concerned about an offense that scored the second-fewest runs in the Majors this past season, there is a much more pressing need to have five Major League-ready starting pitchers in your system to begin the regular season. Unfortunately, the Braves are still dealing with a weak farm system and the lingering effect of both Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy undergoing a second Tommy John surgery in March.

With uncertainty surrounding the future of these surgically repaired pitchers and the guarantee that neither will be ready at the start of the 2015 season, the Braves have placed their focus on the obvious need to improve their starting-pitching depth. As things currently stand, Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Mike Minor and Miller stand as the only players in the system who are projected to be in Atlanta's starting rotation on Opening Day. David Hale is the only other legitimate internal option. But the club would likely be more comfortable placing him at Triple-A Gwinnett to provide the insurance it will likely need to account for an injury to one of its starting pitchers at some point next season.

The Braves are meeting with free agent Jon Lester on Thursday. But it seems more reasonable to believe they will continue attempting to enhance their starting-pitching depth through additional trades or the addition of a second-tier free-agent starting pitcher like Edinson Volquez or Justin Masterson.

Why don't were hear more about Phil Gosselin in relation to next year's plans?
-- Ed H., Louisville, Ky.

Gosselin's emergence during the season's second half essentially ended Tommy La Stella's days with the Braves. Now that La Stella is with the Cubs, Gosselin stands as the top internal option to begin the 2015 season as Atlanta's starting second baseman. But with the possibility that top prospect Jose Peraza could be ready for the Majors at some point next year or at the start of 2016, the Braves will be looking for a short-term fix at the position.

While Gosselin might be a productive piece when necessary, he would seemingly be more valuable in a utility role. Thus, the Braves might look for a starting second baseman in the offseason. But there is no doubt that the club is hoping Peraza proves to be ready for the role in the near future.

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How can the Braves think about giving away Gattis' power bat when Christian Bethancourt has shown very little power or the ability to drive in runs?
-- Rick W., Keiser, Ark.

You will not find a single member of the organization who was not concerned with what Bethancourt showed from a defensive standpoint, especially in September. While he might have been fatigued near the end of a long season, his reaction to balls in the dirt and repeated backhand attempts only showed why many scouts have spent the past few years describing him as lazy.

With that being said, Bethancourt has every tool you would want in a defensive catcher and he's young enough to be molded by a demanding backup catcher, whether that be Gerald Laird, David Ross or some other veteran. As for Gattis, he's far from a Gold Glover, and pitchers had trouble communicating with him throughout this past season.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.

Atlanta Braves, Evan Gattis, Phil Gosselin, Justin Upton