Braves continue their search for a starting pitcher

While Zack Greinke remains on the radar, the Braves have certainly not limited their search for a starting pitcher.  They recently asked the Red Sox about Jon Lester, who does not appear to be available at this time.  In addition, they have closely monitored Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster, who remains scheduled to start tonight’s game against the Cardinals.

With the Dodgers and Cubs struggling to complete a deal, the Braves are among the teams who could end up landing Dempster.  Braves general manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez have known Dempster for approximately 15 years, dating back to the days when they were with the Marlins together.

Because there is some demand for him right now, the Braves might have to put together a decent package to land Dempster, who will be a free agent at the end of this season.  But the cost would likely not be as significant as the one needed to lure Greinke out of Milwaukee.

The Braves are not interested in mortgaging their future for a two-month rental.  So their interest in Greinke continues to hinge on the confidence they have in being able to sign him beyond this year.

It appears they are willing to provide the former Cy Young Award winner approximately $20 million a year.  Greinke has made it known that he would like to play for the Braves, who annually hold Spring Training within 20 minutes of the neighborhood he was raised in Orlando.

But instead of giving up prospects to get Greinke for the final months of this season, the Braves might choose to make a run at him on the free agent market this winter.

Speaking of the Marlins, they could become significant players on this year’s trade market if they decide they need to cut some payroll.  Josh Johnson could be among those players shopped and if he was the Johnson of old, the Braves might be more interested.  But for now, it does not appear the Braves will be aggressively pursuing any of Miami’s starting pitchers.

The Braves showed interest in Omar Infante before last year’s Trade Deadline. Given they once again have a need to improve their bench and possibly find a solution if Dan Uggla’s struggles continue, there is a chance they could once again discuss the possibility of Infante returning.

- Mark Bowman

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