Here’s the latest from Atlanta…
- Braves GM John Coppolella tells David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter links) that “we have not had any trade discussions on Freddie Freeman.” O’Brien also hears that the club hasn’t had any talks about Julio Teheran and that the Braves don’t intend to trade either player. Coppolella’s statement runs counter to a Ken Rosenthal report from earlier today claiming that Atlanta was shopping Freeman, Teheran and “everyone owed money,” in the words of one source. While the GM could be employing some gamesmanship, O’Brien believes (Twitter link) Coppolella’s denial could carry some weight, as he previously didn’t deny that Andrelton Simmons was being shopped prior to the shortstop being dealt to the Angels.
- In another tweet, O’Brien notes that he didn’t ask Coppolella whether or not Nick Markakis’ name had surfaced in trade talks. O’Brien thinks the Orioles, Markakis’ former team, could be interested in bringing the right fielder back to Baltimore. It also wouldn’t surprise O’Brien if the Braves traded Cameron Maybin this offseason.
- As part of a wide-ranging interview with Phil W. Hudson of the Atlanta Business Chronicle (links to part one and part two), Braves chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk said that the club plans to raise payroll in response to the expected revenue increase from their new stadium. A top-10 payroll should be feasible, McGuirk said. He “won’t give you a timetable, but you will start seeing major jumps” by January 1, 2017. (The new stadium is expected to be ready for Opening Day of the 2017 season.)
- McGuirk and team president John Schuerholz began to see trouble brewing for the club during the winter of 2013 in regards to a lagging farm system, though they resisted making any major changes since the Braves were winning at the time. The collapse at the end of the 2014 season was “the catharsis” for the franchise to reload the minor league system that McGuirk notes was so instrumental to the Braves’ success in the 1990’s and 2000’s. I recommend reading all of Hudson’s interview, as it also contains comments from McGuirk about how the payroll is set, infrastructure and development of the new ballpark, corporate sponsorships and much more information about the business side of the Braves’ operations.