Braves will only deal if it makes them better
GM Wren is content with team, feels it can win 95 games in 2012
DALLAS -- Stocked with a surplus of starting pitching and a number of baseball's top prospects, the Braves have the capability to orchestrate a significant trade. At the same time, they are willing to complete such a deal as long as the return significantly enhances their current roster and future.
If the Braves are going to strike this kind of deal, they will likely have to part ways with either Martin Prado or Jair Jurrjens.
But as the first day of this year's Winter Meetings neared its end at Dallas' Hilton Anatole on Monday night, there was not much buzz regarding Jurrjens or Prado. This could have something to do with the fact the Braves do not have a need to move either of these players and thus will demand a rich return.
On the other hand, it could simply be a product of the fact that it is still the early stages of the Meetings. Pitching-hungry teams will likely start showing more interest in Jurrjens once this year's top free-agent starting pitchers, C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle, decide where they will be pitching in 2012.
"There's an adrenaline rush to making a deal," Wren said. "But the bottom line is, does it make us better? We're not going to make a deal just to make a splash at home. We're not going to make a deal just to make a deal. We're looking to get better. We've identified some areas where we think we can get better, and that's our whole goal here."
While the Braves endured a disastrous conclusion that denied them a once-seemingly certain playoff berth this past season, Wren has not lost sight of the fact that he still possesses almost all of the key pieces that helped his club produce the game's fourth-best record through the end of August.
There is no doubt that he would like to acquire a power-hitting outfielder if the right opportunity materializes. But with the belief that Tyler Pastornicky is ready to begin the 2012 season as Atlanta's starting shortstop, Wren believes his only true need is to acquire a backup shortstop.
"We feel like we do have a 95-win team," Wren said. "When you have a 95-win team, you don't look to do a lot. You look for guys to maybe bounce back from whatever held them back the year before or fine-tune. We're still in that mode.
"If we did nothing more than sign a backup shortstop, we feel really good about our team going into Spring Training."
Wren and his staff spent approximately three hours Monday evaluating potential trade partners and targeting players that they could acquire via free agent or trade.
The Braves have already spoken to some teams about potential trades, and Wren believes trade-related buzz could increase among all teams after scouts and general managers mingle in the hotel lobby late Monday night.
"We had a couple conversations," Wren said. "We plan to have a couple more tonight. We just want to see where it goes. I have no idea. I don't have a feel whether it's going to have a lot of traction. But I feel we'll at least have a lot of good things to talk about."
Some teams have given the Braves indication they might be willing to provide a backup shortstop in what would be a minor trade. Wren's desire is to add a veteran shortstop who can handle the bat while serving as a backup and insurance in the event that the 21-year-old Pastornicky is not ready for the Majors.
Some of the free-agent targets for the backup shortstop role are Nick Punto and Ronny Cedeno. Jack Wilson's offensive woes hurt his candidacy, and Edgar Renteria is no longer deemed durable enough to serve as an insurance option who might have to play on a regular basis.
"We don't feel like we have a glaring weakness where we have to get something now or there won't be anything left," Wren said. "We don't feel that way. We feel like we have a good team and we can try to find the right pieces, rather than the first one available."
While the Braves are patiently waiting to see what could materialize on the trade market, the division-rival Marlins are currently commanding the baseball world's attention.
As they prepare to move into their new stadium, the Marlins have already signed closer Heath Bell and shortstop Jose Reyes to mega deals. They have also courted Albert Pujols and talked to both Wilson and Buehrle.
"I don't know that any of us thought the Marlins would be as big of players as they have been on as many big players," Wren said. "We'll see what happens. They're in the middle of everything. They have a need and a goal to make it a good experience for their fans in that new building."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.