• Exclusives

    The Moves the Braves DIDN’T Make and Why

    By Jim Pratt

    Atlanta Braves GM Frank Wren seems to run his ship by the philosophy that the best deal is sometimes the deal not made. With little financial flexibility and very few holes to fill, that strategy seems well suited to the Braves’ needs. Considering Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado are rumored to be Atlanta’s primary trade chips, Wren needs to maximize their return in any trade.

    Carlos Beltran signed a 2-year, 26 million dollar deal with the Cardinals.

    Left Field is the biggest, if not only, hole in the lineup that is a must fill. Carlos Quentin, Carlos Beltran, Josh Willingham and Yonder Alonso were all possible targets that have since either been dealt to or signed with another team.

    Here is a look at some of the off-season moves the Braves DIDN’T make.

    Obviously the prospect price tag wasn’t what kept former White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin from Turner Field. It cost the San Diego Padres nothing more than a potential mid-rotation starter in Simon Castro and a probable LH reliever in Pedro Hernandez to acquire him. The Braves were likely reluctant to give up much in the prospect area for Quentin due to his injury history and pending free agent eligibility next season. Quentin could have been the ideal power bat for the Braves order, but having averaged only 120 games played over the past four seasons, it was too much of a risk.

    Injury concerns were also at play when considering All-Star outfielder, Carlos Beltran, but more than that it was his rumored asking price that was going to be the deal breaker. He eventually signed a 2-year deal worth $26 million with the World Champion St.Louis Cardinals.

    Josh Willingham signed a 3-year, 21 million dollar deal with the Twins

    Atlanta’s chance to acquire free agent Josh Willingham exited stage left when he signed a 3-year $21 million contract with the Minnesota Twins in mid-December. Willingham is coming off a career year, offensively, with 29 HR and 98 RBI in 2011. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider they were put up in the pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum. At age 32, his 136 games played were the most since 2007, but at $7 million per season it would seem a perfect fit for what the Braves need. Willingham’s desire for a 3-year deal and his substandard defensive play might have been what kept the Braves away.

    Before the Cincinnati Reds pulled the trigger on a deal for Padres’ RHP Mat Latos, there were rumors they were interested in Jurrjens. Since it seems unlikely the Reds would deal their young shortstop Zack Cozart, the only other logical fit would have been INF/OF Yonder Alonso. A natural first baseman, the same problem of being blocked at that position in Cincinnati would have occurred in Atlanta with Freddie Freeman entrenched at 1B. His potential .290/20+ HR bat would have been a plus in the Braves’ lineup, but a brief 16 game trial period in the outfieldlast season proved unsuccessful.

    Baltimore is looking for a king's ransom for center fielder Adam Jones.

    The Adam Jones rumors seem to have faded as the calendar turns to the New Year. Jones, who hit .280 with 25 HR for Baltimore last season, would have been a nice addition. He is under contract through 2014, and if a deal had been made, Jones could have moved from LF to CF after this season if Atlanta is unable to re-sign center fielder Michael Bourn. But the Baltimore Orioles think a lot of their young center fielder … with the emphasis on a LOT. Atlanta’s front office probably had trouble hiding their laughter after the Orioles reportedly asked for Jurrjens, Prado and two of the Braves top young pitchers.

    Since those non-moves are now in the rear view mirror, BravesWire will next take a look at some deals that could still be done to bolster an offense that ranked #22 in runs scored last season. Keep an eye out for that next week.

    Follow Jim Pratt on Twitter: @2OutSacBunt

    P.S. The Fried Baseball podcast will return spring 2012 with an entirely new feel. More guests, more interviews and more insanity. See ya then!