12/20/11 5:05 PM EST
Braves Inbox: Any roster moves on horizon?
Beat reporter Mark Bowman answers fans' questions
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
-- John H., Pittsburgh
It's easy to understand why Braves fans are getting restless as we near Christmas without the team having made a significant acquisition. That's the way fans are supposed to react. At the same time, general managers are supposed to display the same kind of patience that Frank Wren has utilized this winter.
There's no doubt that Wren would have liked to have made a deal or two by now. But as he said during the Winter Meetings, he's not going to jeopardize the organization's bright future by doing something just because the Marlins have made some noise this winter.
The Braves thought they might have been close to trading Jair Jurrjens to the Reds last weekend. But this potential deal died when the Reds instead sent Edinson Volquez and three of their top prospects to the Padres in exchange for Mat Latos.
Had Jurrjens been traded to the Reds, the Rockies felt the Braves would then be in position to trade them Martin Prado.
There is still a chance the Rockies will realize their hopes to acquire Prado. There are also still plenty of pitching-hungry teams that will be willing to strike a deal for Jurrjens. But Wren has continued to say he will not deal either player unless he receives a strong return.
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With the top free agents (C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle) off the market and Yu Darvish in position to sign with the Rangers, Jurrjens stands as one of the more attractive pieces for teams looking to add a starting pitcher. But potential suitors are also talking to the A's about Gio Gonzalez and attempting to determine whether the Rays would be willing to trade Wade Davis.
With other options still available, potential suitors are not yet willing to give the Braves what they are seeking for Jurrjens. This could certainly change over the next few weeks.
I've read recently that the Braves talked to the Orioles about trading Prado and Jurjjens for J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones. Any substance with this?
-- Patrick S., Williamson, Ga.
There was never any substance to this rumor. Jones was the only player the Braves were interested in and the Orioles are not going to move him unless they are overwhelmed with an offer. He's their most marketable player.
What is the chance we will get Josh Hamilton once he is a free agent after this year?
-- Kaleb H., Dawsonville, Ga.
There is obviously no way to begin projecting the odds of which free agents the Braves might next winter. But those of you who have been bored with this offseason's developments will be happy to know the Braves will have the financial resources available to be in the market for Hamilton and the other top available free agents. They will likely have more than $40 million to spend and there's a pretty good chance they'll be in the market for some of the top available outfielders.
Next year's cast of free-agent outfielders could include Hamilton, Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton, Nick Swisher, Carlos Quentin and Andre Ethier. This strong list would have been even more impressive had 2011 National League MVP Matt Kemp not signed his eight-year, $160 million contract with the Dodgers in November.
I've been very impressed by Kris Medlen and feel that he's a top-tier starter. Will he be given the chance to compete for a role in the Braves' starting rotation?
--Chris K., Lincoln, Neb.
Medlen will prepare to be a starting pitcher during Spring Training and there is certainly a chance he could find a spot in the rotation at some point during the season. But the club has enough depth to allow Medlen to begin the season in the bullpen, where he could be a tremendous asset.
With the presence of Medlen and Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta will have five relievers manager Fredi Gonzalez should be able to confidently use in any late-inning situation. This should lighten the workloads of closer Craig Kimbrel and top setup men Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty.
Like Venters could occasionally fill Kimbrel's role, Medlen is certainly capable of working either the seventh or eighth on those nights when Venters or O'Flaherty need a breather. At the same time, he is capable of filling a rotation spot. But it appears the best role for him entering this season will be in the bullpen.
If Freddie Freeman can play left field, what about the Braves trading for Mark Trumbo?
-- Scott S., Cleveland, Tenn.
Freeman is a good guy, who can hit and pick it with the best of them at first base. But let's kill all of these thoughts of him attempting to play the outfield. Let's just say he's already right where he belongs.
Has there been any discussion on moving Dan Uggla to third base once Chipper Jones retires?
-- Scott B., Tallahassee, Fla.
That is not an option. Uggla has not played third base since playing 11 games there for Double-A Tennessee in 2005. He's made it known he wants to play second base and you can expect to see him remain there at least through the end of the '15 season, when his current contract expires.
If Tim Hudson is still injured, who would be the Opening Day starter?
-- Brent W., Kailua, Hawaii
This is a good question because I think there is a good chance Hudson will not be a candidate to start on Opening Day. The Braves believe the veteran hurler will be ready at the start of the season. But even if he is, he'll likely be playing catch up throughout Spring Training. So I wouldn't be surprised if his first turn is skipped or his first turn comes toward the back end of the rotation.
After talking to Tommy Hanson last weekend, I got the sense he is confident he will be ready for the start of the season. So he would have to stand as a top candidate. Or the Braves might extend tradition by giving the ball to Jurrjens.
Even with Derek Lowe gone, it seems only fitting that they once again give the Opening Day start to a pitcher they had attempted to trade during the offseason.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.