Braves remain focused on adding a reliever

While the Braves have spent the past few days at least evaluating the possibility of acquiring a starting pitcher, it appears their focus remains on upgrading the bullpen before Wednesday’s Trade Deadline.

After losing Tim Hudson for the remainder of the season on Wednesday, the Braves began at least exploring the cost of landing a starting pitcher who would legitimately improve their starting rotation.  The three pitchers that fit this category appeared to be Jake Peavy, Ervin Santana and Kyle Lohse.

There might be some lingering interest in Peavy.  But the Braves have not had any conversations with the Royals about Santana, who will likely remain in Kansas City beyond this week.  As for Lohse, it does not appear the Brewers would be willing to move him for a cost that that the Braves would be willing to pay.

Braves general manager Frank Wren has said he is comfortable with his starting pitching depth and would only be in the market to land a potential frontline starter.  This is why the Braves have not explored the possibility of landing Houston’s Bud Norris, who is not viewed as a potential upgrade to what the club already possesses.

So with the deadline now three days away, the left-handed relievers who continue to draw interest from the Braves are the Angels’ Scott Downs and the Cubs’ James Russell. The club’s interest in Milwaukee’s Mike Gonzalez has seemingly been lukewarm at best.

There has been some recent speculation among scouts that the Braves might be among the clubs interested in acquiring Toronto’s Darren Oliver.  But there are definite concerns about the 42-year-old Oliver, who has limited right-handed hitters to a .244 on-base percentage and allowed left-handed hitters to reach base at a .407 clip.

- Mark Bowman

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