Braves, Rockies continue to discuss Smith-Prado trade

The Rockies could use one more bat, specifically at second base. The Braves need a left fielder. None of this has changed since the offseason began and reports surfaced of the possibility of the Rockies sending left-handed hitting outfielder Seth Smith to Atlanta for right-handed hitting infielder Martin Prado. Dialogue between the teams continued through last week, and word Monday was the possibility of a trade remains alive.

The frontburner issue for the Braves appears to be seeing what kind of package they can receive for right-handed starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens, a move that could fill other needs.

The Rockies reached a three-year, $31.5 million agreement with former Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer last week, and are in position to deal Smith.

The Rockies’ main need is a durable starting pitcher, but they have shown no interest in dealing the multiple prospects that many teams require for such a deal. So adding another bat at second base, where the Rockies for now have a possible combination of former first-round Draft pick Chris Nelson and solid multi-position man Jonathan Herrera, has risen to the top of the pecking order.

It would be yet another roadblock for Nelson, who took awhile to find his legs as a professional but has earned compliments from manager Jim Tracy for his work ethic. If such a deal occurs, Nelson could get his chance at third base — if hot prospect Nolan Arenado needs more time to develop. Arenado put up dominant numbers in Class-A last year and in the Arizona Fall League, and will be given a shot to make the Majors this spring.

As for the pitcher, the Rockies would like to re-sign veteran righty Kevin Millwood, who displayed leadership — not only on the mound, but with his preparation between starts — that could help a mostly young starting staff. While it would be nice to add a 200-innings stalwart, it doesn’t look possible on the trading market, it’s cost-prohibitive in free agency, and might not be necessary. A veteran hurler who can stabilize the pitching until left-hander Jorge De La Rosa returns in May or June from Tommy John surgery might be good enough to keep the club in good position in the National League West.

The Denver Post reported late last week that the Rockies have reached out to free-agent right-hander Brad Lidge, who grew up in Colorado and, through his agent, expressed interest in pitching for his hometown team. Lidge, who has history as a dominant closer, is coming off a 2011 season with the Phillies during which he missed time with a partially torn rotator cuff and experienced elbow issues. The Phillies have discussed bringing him back. Given his current health, it’s more likely that wherever he signs it would be under a Minor League deal. If the Rockies bring back infielder Melvin Mora, who played for them in 2010, it would be under a Minor League deal.

– Thomas Harding

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