Braves president of baseball operations John Hart and general manager John Coppolella addressed the media today in the wake of the regular season’s completion and discussed a number of roster-related topics heading into the winter. Here’s a rundown of some highlights, courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien and MLB.com’s Mark Bowman …
- Fixing the bullpen will be the team’s top priority this offseason, according to Hart, who adds that his secondary and tertiary priorities will be supplementing the offense and determining if there’s a need to make an addition that would upgrade the team’s starting pitching. The third goal listed will depend specifically on the health of presently injured starters Mike Minor, Manny Banuelos and Mike Foltynewicz, he added.
- In the team’s initial talks with the Dodgers regarding Hector Olivera, Los Angeles initially asked for Andrelton Simmons to be included in the deal — a notion which the Braves quickly shot down.
- Right-handed reliever Chris Withrow, who also came to the Braves in a recent trade, is expected to be ready for Spring Training 2016, per Hart. Another Tommy John victim, Shae Simmons, likely won’t be ready to join the Braves’ bullpen until sometime in May. Speaking generally, Coppolella noted the potential for significant improvement in 2016 simply by way of getting injured players back to full health. While the duo admitted that a 100-win team isn’t going to materialize next season, the expectation is a better record than the 67-95 mark with which they finished the season.
- Though many reports have linked the Braves to acquiring young catching help this season, the team still “loves” Christian Bethancourt’s skills behind the dish and consider him a part of the future plans. That said, the Braves still hope to re-sign A.J. Pierzynski, though they fear that an American League club that could offer some additional at-bats at designated hitter might swoop in and sign the veteran backstop.
- The Braves will head into 2016 planning on Minor being healthy enough to return to the rotation. That seemingly rules out any possibility that the club would look to non-tender Minor following a lost season due to shoulder surgery. Minor won an arbitration hearing against the Braves last offseason and was awarded a $5.6MM salary. His pay can’t be cut any more than 20 percent via the arb process, and the more likely scenario would be that he simply agrees to an identical salary for the 2016 season.