Posts Tagged ‘Xavier Nady

09
Dec
09

More Winter Meetings chatter… The Braves try to wheel and deal

Free agent OF Xavier Nady

It didn’t take long for the Braves to receive permission from Rafael Soriano’s agent that his client would approve a trade.

Shortly after accepting the club’s offer of salary arbitration, Peter Greenberg informed the Braves that Soriano preferred to remain a late-innings reliever in 2010.

When told that those roles had already been filled by Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, Greenberg gave Wren a list of teams that Soriano had discussed signing with before deciding to accept the Braves’ arbitration offer.

The Astros, Red Sox, Yankees, and Orioles were believed to have shown interest in Soriano with the Angels emerging as a new suitor for the right-hander this morning, according to FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal’s twitter.

Atlanta has received a plethora of calls regarding Soriano and were believed to have met with at least five clubs on Tuesday about him.

Wren expects the Braves to move him soon — possibly before the Winter Meetings conclude on Thursday, or within the next week to ten days.

Besides fielding calls regarding Soriano, Wren also spent a great deal of Tuesday discussing possible destinations for RHP Derek Lowe.

While the team still feels confident they can move Lowe over Javier Vazquez, as they desire, they now have reason to believe that the outfielder and/or first baseman they are seeking will not come through the trade market.

More than likely, the trades of Soriano and/or Lowe will net the Braves a group of prospects.

Atlanta has been reportedly searching for more depth at shortstop as they believe their farm system lacks insurance possibilities at that position, in the event that Yunel Escobar goes down with an injury.

The level of prospects or return the Braves receive for Lowe will depend heavily on how much of his salary the club is willing to eat.

As for Wren’s continued search for offensive help, the Braves GM feels that his outfielder/first baseman is likely to come from the current pool of free agents.

The Braves and Xavier Nady have expressed mutual interest in bringing the free agent outfielder to Atlanta.

Wren had interest in acquiring the 31-year-old Nady in 2009 before he was traded to the Yankees. Nady’s health is also an issue as he is coming off of Tommy John surgery. The club will further evaluate his offseason progress to alleviate any lingering injury concerns they may have before signing him to a contract.

During the ’07 and ’08 seasons combined, Nady hit .293 with 45 home runs and posted an .840 OPS.

The Braves also announced Tuesday their decision to designate OF Ryan Church for assignment to make room for Soriano on their 40-man roster.

The club had received minimal trade interest in Church over the past week, but if not traded, Atlanta had planned to non-tender him by Saturday’s deadline.

Soriano’s decision to accept arbitration forced the Braves to make this move sooner than anticipated.

Church, who was acquired by the Braves in a July 10 trade involving beleaguered RF Jeff Francoeur, hit .260 with two HR and 18 RBIs in 44 games during his tenure with the club in 2009.

By designating him for assignment, the team now has 10 days to trade or release the oft injured Church.

The Braves also discussed adding utility player Ross Gload to their bench yesterday before Gload and the Phillies agreed to a two-year contract.

Scouting reports on Gload praised his strong defensive skills, which propelled the Braves’ interest, but his lack of power was worrisome to a team who is looking to add more pop to its lineup.

As the Braves look towards today, the last full day of meetings, they will continue to search for potential destinations for Soriano and/or Lowe.

The club’s beat writer Mark Bowman reported on his blog that Wren mentioned at least one team had interest in dealing for both pitchers.

Bowman believes the division rival Phillies or Mets could be the mystery team, but the chances of Wren dealing his impact players to his chief competition are slim to none.

The team’s thinking on Nady, if signed, is that he will serve mainly as Atlanta’s first baseman with the versatility to spot start in the outfield, if needed.

Martin Prado, the club’s projected opening day second baseman, could see time at first base when Nady is manning the outfield.

While super utility player Omar Infante could play almost any infield position, the team may look to add another middle infielder later in the offseason to increase depth in that area.

Bowman also speculates that with the Yankees closing in on a deal for OF Curtis Granderson, that they could make Nick Swisher available.

The Braves had interest in Swisher last season and the hard nosed outfielder would surely bring a great level of intensity and much needed spark to Atlanta’s offense.

Swisher, who could also play the outfield or first base, would provide the Braves with the same level of flexibility as Nady.

Former Brave Mark DeRosa could be a potential fall back option for Atlanta, but only if his price tag drops considerably.

Wren will continue to explore these options and more as he further assesses his club’s needs going forward.

03
Dec
09

Who will be manning the outfield in Atlanta in 2010?

Georgia native Mike Cameron could be a fit

Now that the Braves have finalized their one-year, $7 million deal with new closer Billy Wagner (the contract also includes a vesting option for 2011), they can move on to addressing their biggest need this off-season — adding a right-handed bat and more pop to their significantly left-handed heavy line-up.

With Major League Baseball’s winter meetings scheduled for December 7-10 in Indianapolis, rumors are buzzing about who the Braves have interest in to fill that role.

Will the team look to pursue a free agent or engage in trade talks to find its new slugger?

Most likely, the Braves will look to upgrade its offense via trade.

Some names that have been linked to Atlanta early this off-season have been most notably Brewers OF Corey Hart and Nationals OF Josh Willingham.

The Corey Hart to the Braves rumors started because of Milwaukee’s desire to add a front-line starting pitcher to its rotation next season and Atlanta’s surplus of starting pitching talent which has the team looking to trade either Derek Lowe or Javier Vazquez for the bat they covet.

The Braves would love to move Lowe and his contract over Vazquez and his name was linked to the Brewers in the Corey Hart chatter.

However, I don’t really believe this rumor actually had any validity to it. I think the report stemmed from speculation of what teams could be potential suitors for Lowe and would match up with the Braves’ need for a young, affordable bat that they would have to part with in return.

The Nationals Josh Willingham rumor seems to hold more weight, as the Braves’ interest has been reported by numerous media outlets steadily this off-season.

Willingham makes sense for a lot of reasons.

He hits both right and left-handed pitching consistently, with a .264 average against righties and a .265 average against lefties. The Braves, who have used a platoon in their outfield the past couple of seasons, wouldn’t have to worry about that anymore with Willingham.

He also has the pop the Braves are seeking to add to their outfield.

Willingham has averaged 22 home runs since 2006 and hit 24 last season with 61 RBI and 70 runs scored for the lowly Washington Nationals.

Most importantly, Willingham’s .863 OPS ranked 13th amongst all outfielders last season.

Considering Atlanta’s collective outfield OPS was next-to-last in the National League last season, this statistic could prove most appealing to the Braves.

Willingham is also just 30 years old and possesses an affordable contract that would be attractive to the Braves.

The biggest downside and an obvious area of concern for Atlanta is Willingham’s notable defensive struggles.

I have my doubts that the Braves, who have always modeled themselves as a pitching and defense franchise first, would take a chance on a guy who hasn’t been reliable with the glove.

Other names that are reportedly on the Braves’ wish list are Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford and Minnesota’s Michael Cuddyer.

You’d have to imagine that Javier Vazquez would need to be included in either deal to net a return of a Crawford or Cuddyer.

And, while the Braves may still be forced to trade arguably their best pitcher last season in Vazquez to get the big bopper they desire, in my opinion, the chances of Atlanta landing either of those bats are slim to none.

When assessing the free agent market of hitters, it is far less enticing for the Braves.

Obviously, Matt Holliday or Jason Bay would be an ideal fit for Atlanta but the Braves don’t even figure to test the waters with the two most sought after free agent bats on the market, as both stand to ink long-term lucrative contracts that will be far out of the club’s price range.

A more realistic option is Georgia native Mike Cameron, who was not offered arbitration from Milwaukee and would fit the need of a right-handed bat for the Braves.

Atlanta has had interest in Cameron for years and while I think it would have been better for the club to pick him up, say two years ago, the 36-year-old veteran still has some pop left in his bat.

Cameron hit .250 with 24 home runs and 70 RBI for the Brewers last season and would serve as a nice one-year stopgap for the Braves until Jason Heyward, one of the game’s best prospects, is ready to take over full-time.

Other free agents the Braves may look at as fall back options are Xavier Nady and Marlon Byrd.

The hot stove figures to keep burning once GM Frank Wren arrives in Indianapolis for the winter meetings on Monday as more names and potential rumors will continue to emerge surrounding his club.

In the meantime, the waiting game — and speculating, continues.




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