Results tagged ‘ braves ’

Rangers not willing to part with top pitching prospects

The Rangers have expressed interest in Braves catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis, though’s T.R. Sullivan reports that Texas considered it a “deal breaker” when Atlanta asked for top pitching prospect Alex Gonzalez in return.

Gattis would figure to be a good fit for the Rangers, though they’re understandably unwilling to part with Gonzalez to make it happen. Gonalez, the 23rd overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, went 12-6 with a 2.66 ERA over 26 combined outings this past season between Class A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco.

The Rangers could continue talks with the Braves regarding Gattis, or even outfielder Justin Upton, but they refuse to give up their top young pitchers in exchange.

Texas is also apparently unwilling to part with second baseman Rougned Odor. In a separate tweet, Sullivan mentions that the Rangers have also reached out to the Nationals regarding Jordan Zimmermann, but adds that the Nats are more inclined to discuss a deal involving Doug Fister. Either way, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that the Nats asked for second baseman Rougned Odor in return and were told he is off limits.

— Paul Casella

Braves close to signing Callaspo

The Braves are reportedly close to signing infielder Alberto Callaspo to fill their current void at second base, according to ESPN’s Jim Bowden.

Though he struggled this past season with the A’s, Callaspo could be a good fit for the Braves in the sense that he can hold down the second base job until top prospect Jose Peraza is deemed ready for the Major Leagues. The 20-year-old Peraza hit a staggering .339 with 60 stolen bases across two levels in the Minors this past season, including .335 with 25 steals over 44 games with Double-A Mississippi.

Signing Callaspo would allow the Braves to plug in a veteran player at second base without committing to anyone other than Peraza long-term. Atlanta, of course, is in the market for a second baseman after trading Tommy La Stella to the Cubs earlier this offseason.

— Paul Casella

Upton rumors heating up

The Braves are continuing to field offers for outfielder Justin Upton, with the Orioles, Rangers and Padres among the teams showing interest, according to’s Mark Bowman.

The Mariners could also enter the picture if they end up not signing free agent oufielder Melky Cabrera, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, though they would be unlikely to give up a “top young pitcher” for a one-year rental such as Upton.

It’s unclear how far talks have gotten with any of the aforementioned teams, but the Braves are not believed to have received a substantial offer yet. While nothing seems imminent, an Upton trade would certainly make sense, especially after the Braves signed free agent outfielder Nick Markakis to a four-year deal last week.

Upton is owed $14.5 million next season, the final year in his current contract. With the Braves currently hovering around a rebuilding state, they’ll likely try to get what they can for Upton this offseason as opposed to letting him walk away next year and getting nothing in return.

— Paul Casella

Braves sign Jim Johnson to one-year deal

The Braves added to their bullpen mix on Wednesday, agreeing to terms with free-agent right-hander Jim Johnson on a one-year deal, the club announced.

Johnson, 31, split last season between the A’s and Tigers. He made 54 appearances and went 5-2, but had a 7.09 ERA. However, last season was more of an outlier, as he had a 3.11 ERA with the Orioles from 2006-13.

With Atlanta, Johnson projects to share set-up duties with David Carpenter, tweets’s Mark Bowman.

A nine-year veteran and former All-Star, Johnson led the Majors with back-to-back 50-save seasons in 2012 (51) and ’13 (50) with the O’s.

–Austin Laymance

Potential suitors lining up for Markakis

With multiple reports surfacing in recent days that a Nick Markakis return to the Orioles is no longer inevitable, multiple teams including the Braves, Blue Jays and Giants are beginning to express interest in the free agent outfielder, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

Each of those three teams has an obvious need for either an outfielder or another strong bat in the lineup. The 31-year-old Markakis is coming off a season in which he posted a .276/.342/.386 line with the O’s, while also winning his second career Gold Glove Award for his defense in right field.

The Braves already traded away outfielder Jason Heyward and are said to be listening to offers for fellow outfielder Justin Upton. That leaves an obvious opening in the Atlanta outfield, while the Braves could also be an interesting fit for Markakis off the field, as he grew up in nearby Woodstock, Ga., went to college in-state at Young Harris College and has a home in Georgia.

The Jays, meanwhile, are known to be in the market for at least one outfielder this offseason, with both Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus testing free agency. Toronto is still open to re-signing Cabrera, though recent reports indicate Cabrera would prefer to sign elsewhere. Assuming Markakis indeed listens to other offers, the Jays could make a strong push for him, especially considering an already thin free agent class got even thinner this week with the Mariners signing Nelson Cruz.

As for the Giants, their interest in Markakis will largely depend on what ultimately happens with Jon Lester. The Giants aren’t necessarily in the market for a top free agent outfielder, but they could use the money saved by Pablo Sandoval leaving for Boston to add another bat in an attempt to compensate offensively for Sandoval’s departure.

The Orioles still remain very much in the mix, especially after losing Cruz on Monday, but it appears that other teams now at least have a shot to lure away Markakis.

— Paul Casella

Cubs can only wait for Lester

Will Jon Lester decide to go west and join the defending World Series champions? Will he return to Boston to pitch for the Red Sox? Or, will he pick the Cubs and rejoin Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer? Lester met Monday in Atlanta with a delegation from the Giants, who pitched a return to the Bay area where the left-hander played in the second half of last season with the Athletics.

The Giants, Red Sox and Cubs can afford Lester, who was 16-11 with a career best 2.46 ERA in 32 starts last season for the Red Sox and Athletics. According to reports, the Cubs and Red Sox have made six-year offers to Lester worth $138 million and $130 million, respectively.

Lester, who turns 31 on Jan. 7, also met with the Braves, but they have reportedly dropped out of the bidding for the free agent pitcher, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

All the Cubs can do now is wait. Lester has two World Series rings from his days with the Red Sox, including one from 2007 when Epstein and Hoyer were in Boston’s front office. The lefty could be a key part of the Cubs’ bid to end a 108-year championship drought.

— Carrie Muskat

Extension possible for Braves, Justin Upton

This offseason, the Braves already traded Jason Heyward to the Cardinals before his final year ahead of free agency. Fellow outfielder Justin Upton is in the same position, and rumors have been flying that Atlanta will deal him as well.

Yet it’s not a lock that Upton will be wearing a different uniform in 2015, and the slugger could in fact stick around even longer. John Hart, the Braves’ president of baseball operations, appeared on MLB Network Radio on Sunday, and said the club is not involved in active discussions involving Upton or catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis. While Hart downplayed the possibility of a long-term extension for Upton, he also called it “not out of the realm of possibility.”

Upton will make $14.5 million this coming season, at age 27, and will be expensive to retain after that. He’s a career .274/.354/.476 hitter, averaging 24 home runs and 80 RBIs per year since 2009. In ’14, he slammed 29 homers and drove in 102 runs, while posting an .833 OPS.

— Andrew Simon

Braves expected to remain active

The Braves already executed one of the offseason’s biggest moves, dealing right fielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden to the Cardinals for young starter Shelby Miller and prospect Tyrell Jenkins. And it appears that new president of baseball operations John Hart is far from finished retooling the club after last year’s disappointing finish.

The next big name that could be on the move is outfielder Justin Upton, who also is entering the final year of his contract after collecting 29 homers and 102 RBIs in 2014. Teams that have talked with Atlanta about Upton feel there’s a better than 50-50 chance a trade will go down, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, with the Padres, Mariners and Reds among those interested. In fact, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported Friday the Braves “are very much shopping” the 27-year-old, with the Mariners as a strong contender.

But Atlanta is working on other fronts as well. It would love to dump unproductive and expensive outfielder B.J. Upton, and catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis also could be available. Meanwhile,’s Jesse Sanchez lists the club as one of two front-runners for free-agent Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, along with the Padres.

At the same time, the Braves will look to add more starting pitching. One possibility — albeit remote — is free-agent left-hander Jon Lester. The Georgia resident met with club officials on Thursday, according to Stark, though Hart called their pursuit of him a “long shot.”

— Andrew Simon

Jon Lester meets with Cubs

Hopefully, Jon Lester brought a warm coat to Wrigley Field Tuesday. According to a source, Lester met with the Cubs in what was believed to be the second stop on the free agent’s offseason tour of prospective teams. The Wrigleyville area was in a deep chill because of an early blast of winter weather. It’s up to Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer, who know Lester from their days together in Boston, to convince the lefty that it won’t be this cold on Opening Night, April 5, at Wrigley Field. The Cubs would not confirm the meeting.

After losing in their bid for free agent catcher Russell Martin, Epstein and Hoyer shifted their focus to adding an ace to the rotation. Lester fits that role, compiling a 116-67 record and 3.58 ERA over nine seasons.

Lester will reportedly meet Thursday with the Braves, who do have an edge over the other teams. In the offseason, the pitcher lives in suburban Atlanta, about a half hour drive from the Braves’ ballpark.

Would Lester be willing to make a switch from the American League to the Cubs? MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, interviewed on a Boston radio station Tuesday, said he believes Lester will return to the Red Sox. Boston traded Lester to Oakland on July 31, and the lefty finished the season 6-4 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 starts with the Athletics. Lester was 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA in 21 starts with Red Sox before the trade.

After Lester was dealt to the A’s, he told Boston Herald writer John Tomase that he wouldn’t be opposed to coming back to Boston.

“The [Red Sox] told me [after the trade to Oakland], ‘We’re going to be aggressive. You’re going to get blown out of the water by some of these [other] offers,'” Lester said. “I’m like, ‘I don’t need to be blown out of the water.’ Why would I need to be blown out of the water? That doesn’t make or break your decision, at least for me. I’m not going to the highest bidder. I’m going to the place that makes me and my family happy. If that’s Boston, it’s Boston.”

— Carrie Muskat

Cubs acquire La Stella from Braves

The Cubs’ middle infield just got a little more crowded. On Sunday, the Cubs acquired left-handed hitting infielder Tommy La Stella from the Braves, as well as Atlanta’s No. 4 international signing bonus slot, for pitcher Arodys Vizcaino and three international signing bonus slots. Vizcaino, 24, returns to the Braves, where he began his pro career. The Cubs had acquired the right-hander in July 2012 from the Braves along with pitcher Jaye Chapman for pitcher Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson.

In Sunday’s deal, the net gain for the Braves in international bonus pool slot money is about $832,000, according to Baseball America. Atlanta will get the Cubs’ Nos. 2, 3 and 4 international signing bonus slots. The Braves’ No. 4 slot is valued at $142,000.

Where will La Stella play? A good contact hitter, he’s the type of player the Cubs would like at the top of the lineup. But they already have an overload of middle infielders with Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, Logan Watkins, Luis Valbuena and top prospect Addison Russell. At the end of the 2014 season, Castro and Baez were projected as the starting shortstop and second baseman for next year. The Cubs are in the market to add starting pitching, and could possibly deal one of the infielders.

However, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said the deal for La Stella was not a precursor to any other deal.

“Sometimes you have to acquire guys that can get on-base,” Hoyer told “It’s something we needed.”

— Carrie Muskat


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