Atlanta Braves Rumors

Atlanta Braves trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Quick Hits: Bonuses, Braves, Padres

Winning a postseason series might be its own reward, but for players, coaches and team personnel, there are financial rewards as well, David Waldstein of the New York Times notes. Postseason series wins mean bonuses, and while those bonuses aren’t significant for a star like Miguel Cabrera (a full share for a World Series win in 2013 was $307K, compared to Cabrera’s 2014 salary of $22MM), they can make a huge difference for coaches and less highly paid players. “Our coach Brian Butterfield, when he was with the Red Sox, he gave his house to his son and his grandkids and moved into a new house,” says infielder Kelly Johnson, now an Oriole. “It changes lives. Guys are paying off college loans, house payments and cars. You can’t beat that.” Here’s more from around the big leagues.

  • The Braves will replace scouting coordinator Tony DeMacio with crosschecker Brian Bridges, John Manuel of Baseball America writes, citing a tweet by Peter Gammons. Former scouting director Roy Clark will return to the organization as a special assistant to the general manager. DeMacio presided over drafts that included players like Andrelton Simmons and Evan Gattis, but the Braves’ current farm system is not highly regarded. Still, the timing of these changes is somewhat odd, since the Braves don’t have a permanent general manager right now, just an interim GM in John Hart, who stepped up when the Braves fired Frank Wren. Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan tweets that these moves suggest the Braves may simply keep Hart as their GM and have him groom assistant GM John Coppolella to eventually replace him.
  • The Padres have hired Chris Kemp as director of international scouting, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. Kemp had previously been an area scout with the Rangers, for whom new Padres GM A.J. Preller also worked. Preller’s own key interest is international scouting, so it’s not surprising that he would hire someone with whom he’s familiar to direct that department. MLB.com’s Corey Brock notes (via Twitter) that the Padres’ hiring of Kemp does not violate the Padres and Rangers’ agreement that Preller not take staff with him from Texas, because Kemp is being promoted.

NL Notes: Mozeliak, Mets, Braves, Pirates, Padres

Cardinals GM John Mozeliak tackled a variety of topics in a two-part interview with MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch. Looking back to the last offseason, he said that the team identified Pat Neshek as an option because he offered a different look from the club’s other relievers, and said that the David Freese-for-Peter Bourjos trade would not have been made without the inclusion of prospect Randal Grichuk.

Here’s the latest out of the National League …

  • The Mets have, as expected, decided not to bring back hitting coach Lamar Johnson and assistant Luis Natera in those roles, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Johnson stepped in mid-season after his predecessor, Dave Hudgen, was fired. Meanwhile, Triple-A skipper Wally Backman will not be elevated to the big league staff, but will be offered the chance to keep his position.
  • As the Braves continue to make their own staff changes, scouting director Tony DeMacio has been re-assigned, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Atlanta is still waiting to hear whether interim GM John Hart will take the job full-time, Nightengale adds.
  • If the Pirates are unable to bring back catcher Russell Martin, another impactful transaction that could have PR benefits would be a Neil Walker extension, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. With a $5.75MM arbitration salary to build off of over his next two seasons of eligibility, and coming off of a .271/.342/.467 slash with 23 home runs, he will not be cheap.
  • The Padres had a private workout today with Cuban free agent Yasmany Tomas, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. Tomas officially hit the open market yesterday.

Braves Retain Fredi Gonzalez, Hire Bo Porter As Third Base Coach

Interim Braves GM John Hart announced today that the team will retain Fredi Gonzalez for the 2015 season and hire recently dismissed Astros manager Bo Porter as a third base/outfield and baserunning coach (Twitter links). According to a team press release, assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher will not be returning to the organization in 2015, and Porter will replace former third base coach Doug Dascenzo. Hitting coach Greg Walker already announced his resignation earlier this week. The remainder of the coaching staff will return, according to the Braves.

The news may not sit well with Braves fans, as many called for Gonzalez to suffer the same fate as recently fired GM Frank Wren following the team’s collapse and offensive struggles. Gonzalez, however, will be retained for a fifth season as the Atlanta skipper. To this point, the Braves are 358-290 under Gonzalez, who has also managed the Marlins and owns a lifetime 634-569 record as a Major League manager.

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported shortly before the announcement that Porter was expected to join the Braves’ staff (Twitter links). As O’Brien noted, Porter has strong ties to Gonzalez after spending three years with him as a coach for the Marlins and playing for him when Gonzalez managed Triple-A Richmond in 2002.



Braves Notes: Martinez, Walker, Blakeley

Longtime Braves executive Jose Martinez has passed away suddenly at the age of 72, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. A special assistant to the GM since being hired by John Schuerholz back in 1995, Martinez was beloved within the front office and by a large number of players whose careers he helped shape when working with Atlanta’s minor leaguers. The Cuban-born Martinez played two seasons with the Pirates in 1969-70 and had a 15-year coaching career with the Cubs and Royals before being hired by the Braves. MLBTR sends its condolences to Martinez’s family and friends, as well as the Braves organization.

Some additional items pertaining to the Braves organization…

  • Greg Walker has resigned as the Braves’ hitting coach, Bowman tweets. It will be interesting to see if there are any further changes to the coaching staff once the Braves hire a replacement for the recently fired Frank Wren. Walker’s resignation isn’t surprising, given Atlanta’s offensive struggles over the past two seasons.
  • Yankees executive Gordon Blakely has left his post with New York to accept a role as special assistant to the GM in Atlanta, he tells George A. King III of the New York Post. Blakeley, who had been with the Yankees for 21 years (and with the Mariners for seven years prior to that), was instrumental in New York’s signing of Orlando Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Jose Contreras and Hideki Irabu, as well as the decision to draft Phil Hughes, King notes. He has recently worked as a cross checker for the Latin American market but has also held the title of senior VP of baseball operations and president of professional and international scouting.

Emilio Bonifacio Changes Agents

Super-utility player Emilio Bonifacio has decided to change agents in advance of his coming free agency, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports on Twitter. Bonifacio has moved from Paul Kinzer to Gene Mato, according to Dierkes.

The 29-year-old switch-hitter delivers much of his value through baserunning and defensive versatility. A consistent threat to swipe thirty bags, Bonifacio ranks 12th in all of baseball since 2011 in the baserunning component of Fangraphs’ WAR calculation. In his eight seasons of MLB action, Bonifacio has seen extensive time at both middle infield spots, center field, and third base.

Bonifacio is somewhat less accomplished with the bat, of course. His 2014 production — .259/.305/.345 over 426 plate appearances — is not far off from his career line of .262/.319/.341, which is approximately 20% below the league average rate. Bonifacio put up a .753 OPS in his best season as a hitter, his 2011 campaign with the Marlins, though that was fueled by a .372 BABIP. (His career mark is .331.)

Mato will face an interesting challenge in finding Bonifacio a new home. In the aggregate, he seems likely to draw wide interest given his age and broad skillset. It is easy to see any number of expected contenders seeking to add Bonifacio as a bench piece, while other clubs may want to move him around as they introduce young players — with the added bonus that he could once more be a summer trade chip.

As always, be sure to reference MLBTR’s Agency Database for the most up-to-date information on current player representatives. If you see any errors or omissions, please let us know via email: mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.


Cafardo On Moore, Hart, Wotus, Hughes

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at nine managers and GMs to watch. The Braves search for a new GM features prominently on the list. While Royals owner David Glass won’t prevent GM Dayton Moore from pursuing the opening in Atlanta, the matter of compensation could still complicate a move. When the Red Sox traded Theo Epstein to the Cubs, they only acquired an unaccomplished reliever in Chris Carpenter. The Royals would want more in return for Moore.

  • If Atlanta’s interim GM John Hart decides to pass on the permanent position, he’ll be heavily involved in picking his successor. Hart helped groom several future GMs like Ben Cherington, Neal Huntington, and Mark Shapiro. Assistant GM John Coppolella could be next on the list.
  • It’s surprising Giants bench coach Ron Wotus isn’t connected to more managerial searches. Wotus is Bruce Bochy’s right-hand man and a former PCL manager of the year. My personal observation: the trend of hiring recently retired players has hurt the visibility of Wotus.
  • A poll of 12 GMs found in favor of paying Phil Hughes the $500,000 bonus for reaching 210 innings. He fell one-third of an inning short due to a rain delay. He also had another start affected by rain earlier in September. Eight GMs were in favor of paying Hughes with four opposed. Those against the idea cited contractual reasons. As we learned earlier this week, the CBA prevents the Twins from simply paying the bonus to Hughes without restructuring his contract.

NL East Notes: Phillies, Gattis, Marlins

The Phillies are expected to add depth this offseason in the hopes that increased rest will help the production of Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, and Marlon Byrd, writes Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Both manager Ryne Sandberg and interim team president Pat Gillick have hinted that more rest could help the performance of their elder statesmen. The team has received almost no production this month from it’s aging core. The club is also eager to add younger players.

  • Utley is disappointed with his year, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. He also seems to imply that the daily grind of the season is to blame for the club’s disappointing finish. He points to full seasons from Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and an elite bullpen as reasons for optimism in 2015. On the subject of a Hamels trade, he’s firmly against the idea.
  • Today might be Evan Gattis‘ last game with the Atlanta Braves, says David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Christian Bethancourt is viewed as the catcher of the future in Atlanta and appears ready for regular work. Since Gattis is not yet arbitration eligible, the Braves could keep him to split time with Bethancourt and serve as a cheap outfielder. Any outfield with Gattis would be a defensive liability since either Justin Upton or Jason Heyward would need to man center field. Gattis is thought to fit best with AL clubs.
  • The Marlins have added two experienced scouts in Dominic Viola and David Keller, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Since the front office was reorganized following the 2013 season, the club has focused on adding experience to its scouting department. Those moves helped to shape two midseason trades which netted Bryan Morris, Jarred Cosart, and Enrique Hernandez.

John Hart On Braves’ Offseason

John Hart has taken over for Frank Wren as the Braves’ GM and is currently serving on an interim basis. The Braves have reportedly offered Hart the job on a permanent basis as well, although it’s not clear whether he’ll accept it. Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has recent comments from Hart that offer insight into how his tenure might go, however long it lasts.

  • Don’t expect a complete rebuild, Hart says. “We don’t need an overhaul. It’s not a disaster. But there are certainly some things we need to take a look, although I’m not at liberty to discuss names right now.”
  • To the extent that the Braves do make high-impact moves, they will likely come through trades rather than the free agent market. “There are economic challenges,” Hart says. The Braves have significant commitments in place for 2015 for Dan Uggla, B.J. Upton, Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman.
  • Hart adds that the Braves lack speed and veteran leadership.
  • Schultz notes that since Hart is currently only working on an interim basis, the team’s first key orders of business will likely be to find a new GM and to decide whether Fredi Gonzalez will stay on at manager. Then, Schultz opines that the Braves should remove B.J. Upton from their roster and should trade Justin Upton and Evan Gattis.

Braves Outright Ryan Buchter, Carlos Perez

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Braves have outrighted Ryan Buchter and Carlos Perez off the team’s 40-man roster, according to the International League transactions page. Buchter, a 27-year-old lefty, has just one career MLB outing but worked to a 3.29 ERA over 63 frames this year at Triple-A. Perez, also a southpaw, has yet to advance past the Double-A level (where he struggled mightily this year) as a 22-year-old.

NL East Notes: Phillies, Mets, Hand, Braves

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins tells Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he isn’t sure when his team will contend again, but he’d like to see the club spend to work toward that in the offseason. Rollins has a specific target in mind, as well, having read up on Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas. Rollins feels that if Tomas is the next slugger to follow in the footsteps of Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler, then “We’ve got to get our hands in that market.” Rollins continued, speaking more generically about spending to improve rather than just spending on Tomas: We have enough money so you can’t say we don’t. … We’re in a big market, a big-market payroll. So you have to go out there and make it happen.”

Here’s more from Salisbury and more from the NL East…

  • Jonathan Papelbon didn’t appeal his seven-game suspension because he didn’t want it to carry into next season, the closer tells Salisbury. Papelbon maintains that the crotch-grabbing gesture he made toward the fans was simply an adjustment: I truly feel like if the fans really got to me and they wanted something I would have given them a little bit more than that.” Papelbon isn’t sure if the Phillies will try to limit his games finished to prevent his $13MM option (2016) from vesting, but he expects to be on the mound in save situations “regardless of what team” he is on.
  • While there’s been plenty of speculation about the Mets trading Bartolo Colon this offseason, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin wouldn’t be surprised to see the team trade Jon Niese or Dillon Gee instead (Twitter links). While neither would save the Mets as much as shedding Colon’s $11MM salary, Niese will earn $7MM in 2015 (and is guaranteed $16.5MM through 2016), while Gee’s arbitration salary could clear $5MM. Rubin feels if the Mets do indeed make trades to shed salary and free up room for free agent pursuits, the most likely candidates are those three pitchers and second baseman Daniel Murphy.
  • Marlins lefty Brad Hand has made a good deal of improvements in terms of strike-throwing, writes Christina De Nicola of FOX Sports Florida, and he’ll enter 2015 with another chance to compete for a rotation spot. The out-of-options hurler and 2008 second-rounder finished the season with a 4.38 ERA in a career-high 111 innings. However, he was better in the second half, posting a 3.89 ERA over his final 13 appearances (11 starts). I’d imagine that, given the Marlins’ pitching depth, Hand could face an uphill battle in securing a rotation spot.
  • While he didn’t elaborate much, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gets the sense that there will be significant roster turnover for the Braves this offseason (Twitter link). The Braves have struggled as a whole in 2014, but particularly at the plate, where the team has batted a combined .241/.306/.360. Each of those rate stats ranks 24th or worse in Major League Baseball, and the team’s 562 runs are 29th in the Majors, leading only the Padres.