Depth has Wren ready to deal
Braves GM expects trade market to heat up as season nears
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- With the arrival of March's final full week, there's a sense that it's time for the rumor mill to start churning. Players are asking who might be traded and general managers know this is the time of year when they're usually fielding calls from their peers.
But because of the extra week of Spring Training that was created because of the World Baseball Classic, Braves general manager Frank Wren and his fellow GMs find themselves adjusting to a different schedule. While the calendar says different, Wren is basically going about his business as if it's currently mid-March in a normal year.
"It seems like we should be doing more, but it's not that time yet," said Wren, while joking that he feels like he's out in front of a changeup and just awaiting the opportunity to complete his swing.
With a surplus of pitching, Wren has already started to receive a number pitches from clubs that need arms. But he doesn't expect trade talks to truly begin heating up until the later part of the upcoming week.
"Clubs have interest in our guys," Wren said. "One of the things we've worked so hard to do was to build some depth and some surpluses, and we want to hold on to as many of them as we can. There will come a time when you don't have a surplus and you have a need to fill. You'd much rather to fill from within your organization."
Coming off a season in which his top four projected starters and top three relievers each spent at least two months on the disabled list, Wren certainly holds the belief that you can never have too much pitching in your organization.
But at the same time, the luxury of having an overabundance of Major League-ready arms puts Wren in a position where he could improve his organizational strength by moving at least one of his pitchers. Jeff Bennett, Buddy Carlyle, Manny Acosta and Jorge Campillo appear to be the most expendable pitchers who could provide some value on the trade market. But while Wren has the means to improve his club via trade, he doesn't exactly have a glaring need on his Major League roster.
"Do we have a perfect club? No," Wren said. "Could we improve some areas? I think every club could. But at the same time I think we have the guys here that we're going to go with. Now it's just a matter of figuring out what combination."
If Wren were to trade one of his pitchers, he may attempt to improve the organization's depth in the infield. Third base appears to be the one position where the Braves could improve, from an organizational perspective.
The farm system's impressive depth has been on display throughout Spring Training. Tommy Hanson, Kris Medlen and 19-year-old phenoms Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman have thrived in their first big league camps.
Over the course of the final two weeks of the exhibition season, Wren is looking forward to the opportunity to get a better sense about what he'll have at the Major League level this season. Chipper Jones and Garret Anderson are expected to return from injury this week, and Brian McCann and Gregor Blanco will be done with the World Baseball Classic by Tuesday at the latest.
Jones, who has been bothered by a strained right oblique, again took a full round of batting practice on Saturday. At the same time, Anderson was further testing his strained right calf by running harder than he had when he first tested it on Friday.
"I think that last week [of the exhibition season], when we have Chipper, Mac and Garret all in the lineup, we'll really see how the lineup plays out," Wren said. "That's really the only thing that has been missing from this Spring Training. We've seen our pitching staff perform, and we have a pretty decent idea about what he have there."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.