No deals made, but Braves make progress
Wren encouraged by trade negotiations with various teams
DALLAS -- While the Braves did not make much noise during this year's Winter Meetings, general manager Frank Wren was encouraged with the progress made during trade negotiations with a number of other Major League clubs.
When the Meetings concluded Thursday, Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens were both still a part of Atlanta's roster. But as this four-day week progressed, scouts and executives from various Major League clubs said they believed at least one of those players will be moved before the start of the season.
"We're in that phase where we're checking back with clubs," Wren said. "I think there are a lot of people leaving here with somewhat unfinished business. They've still got discussions going that people are trying to evaluate. I do think the free-agent market not breaking loose has stalled some things."
Wren said this immediately after learning the Angels had signed Albert Pujols and just before it was revealed free-agent pitcher C.J. Wilson had also opted to sign with the Halos. Considering both had been targeted by the already improved division-rival Marlins, these signings certainly provided some relief for Atlanta.
As Miami grabbed attention with the signings of Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes this week, Wren said he would not allow these moves to distract him from his plan to simply make a couple improvements to the solid foundation he believes the Braves already possess.
Atlanta would like to acquire a right-handed-hitting outfielder who could add some power to the lineup. But Wren said earlier this week that his club's only definitive need is to sign a veteran infielder who can serve as 21-year-old shortstop Tyler Pastornicky's backup. Pastornicky has never previously played at the Major League level.
Now that Wilson and Buerhle are off the free-agent market, the Braves might get a better idea of what they could truly get in return from pitching-hungry teams for Jurrjens. The Rockies have expressed interest in him and Prado.
While Atlanta would likely need a tremendous return, there is at least a chance it could package Jurrjens and Prado in the same deal. Some of the early conversations the Braves had with the Royals more than a month ago included a package of both players.
Now that the Cardinals know they will not be spending money on Pujols, the Braves might also start to better understand who will be available to serve as a backup shortstop. Free agents Nick Punto and Ronny Cedeno are among the players who could fill this role.
Deals done: None
Rule 5 Draft activity: The Braves selected left-hander Robert Fish from the Angels in the Major League phase. Fish possesses a power curveball and a fastball that has been clocked in the mid-90s. He could team with Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters to give Atlanta three powerful left-handed arms in its bullpen.
Goals accomplished: Wren seemed satisfied with the progress of some of his trade talks. Over the next few days and weeks, he might better appreciate some of the information he and his scouts gathered this week.
Unfinished business: Wren said he would be content if he adds nothing more than a backup shortstop before the start of the season. But there is seemingly no doubt he will explore all options to add a right-handed bat that could provide an immediate impact.
GM's bottom line: "I think you always leave here planning to have some follow-up conversations. You have a better sense of what teams are doing. It's the same this year. We've got three or four open conversations that we'll just continue to follow up and see if they materialize into anything." -- Wren
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.