Deadline move bolsters Braves' offense
Atlanta brings in LaRoche to add power to the lineup
ATLANTA -- Braves general manager Frank Wren spent the offseason focusing on the reconstruction of his starting rotation. He's spent the past two months altering the look of an offense that now seemingly possesses the necessary pieces to adequately support this rebuilt rotation.
Wren started changing the complexion of his lineup with the June 3 acquisition of Pirates outfielder Nate McLouth, and continued the alteration process on Friday afternoon, when shortly before the 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline, he acquired Adam LaRoche from the Red Sox in exchange for Casey Kotchman.
"When you go back to early June, we had a number of spots in our lineup that weren't producing," Wren said. "You can't correct it all in one move. But [getting McLouth] was the first step, and over the course of the last two months, we've been able to make adjustments -- whether it's roster adjustments, lineup adjustments or via trades -- that have given us a more productive lineup."
With the addition of McLouth, Wren was able to provide consistent production to a center-field position which produced very little offensively with rookie Jordan Schafer manning the position during the season's first two months. With the July 10 acquisition of Ryan Church, the Braves cut ties to Jeff Francoeur, who had provided indication that he likely wouldn't regain his promise as long as he remained in Atlanta.
And with LaRoche, Wren hopes that he's gained the power-hitting first baseman that will aid his club as it bids to find entry into the postseason.
"Now when you look [at our lineup, Nos.] 1-8, there's not an easy out in that lineup, and that gives us a chance to score more runs and that gives us a chance to have a better record," Wren said.
Up until Friday's Deadline, Wren was continuing to search for another veteran arm to add to his bullpen mix. While he wasn't able to land a satisfying deal, he remains hopeful that he may be able to add this piece during the waiver-wire period in August.
Now that the non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player.
To be eligible for the postseason, a player must be on a team's Major League roster by midnight ET on Aug. 31.
"We've had conversations about relievers that we feel we can still pursue in August," Wren said. "Whether that will come to fruition or not, I don't know."
When completing the deal that brings LaRoche back to Atlanta, Wren said that he considered the fact that the 29-year-old first baseman was a popular clubhouse figure while playing for the Braves from 2004-06.
"This club does get along very well," Wren said. "We've got very good chemistry on the team, and I think once you get that, you want to hold onto it. This is one of those situations where you wouldn't bring somebody else in unless you were certain they wouldn't disturb that chemistry."
Before Boston acquired LaRoche from Pittsburgh on July 22, Wren was attempting to bring the first baseman to Atlanta. Now that he has, he has more reason to feel confident that his club will continue to provide the improved offensive production that has been present since he began altering the lineup's makeup.
"We're happy with the way we've played the last month," Wren said. "Offensively, across the board, we're performing at a level, I can't say we expected. But most players are performing at the level they've performed in the past. That gives us a chance."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.