Dansby Swanson, starting rotation and more are Braves topics at winter meetings

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

SAN DIEGO – The Braves have a right fielder. And a center fielder. And a third baseman. And a first baseman. And a second baseman. And three catchers.

You get the point.

It’s no secret that many of the positions on Atlanta’s roster are taken. There’s only so much the Braves can address, even if there are always ways to improve.

“Now, we’re still open to being creative,” Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said. “I’ve said this before: There’s just certain times of year that people are active and engaged, and you can make transactions, whether that’s signings or trades. The offseason is a really large chunk of time to be able to get things done.”

Could the winter meetings be an exhilarating time for the industry? This event, which puts the game on center stage in the sports world for a few days, can lead to more activity in an offseason.

As Anthopoulos heads to San Diego, Dansby Swanson’s situation is top of mind for fans. Anthopoulos said he spoke to Swanson, who is one of the big four free-agent shortstops this winter.

“Great conversation,” Anthopoulos said of connecting with Swanson, whose wedding is coming up soon. “... Not going to add anything more to that other than: My conversations with him are always great. I think anyone that has a conversation with him, you come away just knowing how smart he is.”

Anthopoulos doesn’t make a habit of reaching out to free agents when they’re free agents. He doesn’t initiate calls with those players unless those calls are arranged ahead of time.

“That being said, it’s a two-way street,” Anthopoulos said. “I’m happy to have conversations at any time. Look, I have relationships, right? Especially players I don’t know, I definitely don’t talk to unless those are arranged. But I have relationships with our players – current and former players. And if there’s a scenario that it’s worth it to have a conversation, I’ll have a conversation.”

The Braves and Swanson have both expressed interest in continuing their partnership. During the second half of the season, the sides exchanged figures for a potential contract extension.

The Braves value their three catchers

On Sunday, one report said the Braves were the frontrunners to land Athletics catcher Sean Murphy in a trade.

The report was not accurate.

In fact, Anthopoulos said the Braves plan to head into spring training with their three catchers: Travis d’Arnaud, William Contreras and Manny Piña.

“You’ll see – I’ve seen it already – speculation about trades and things like that,” Anthopoulos said. “We’re gonna be open minded but I don’t anticipate -- I know there’s been talk of trades and things like that. I do not anticipate trades, so just to shut that down. Again, if somebody comes to us and something clearly makes the club better, yeah, we’ll explore it like we would any other position.”

The Braves, as Anthopoulos said at last month’s General Managers Meetings, signed Piña for a reason. In 2021, the Braves went through catcher after catcher. They value depth at that position.

Could their plans change? Sure, because no one can predict the future.

But it feels like Anthopoulos is satisfied with the catching situation and what it provides his club.

What have the Braves explored?

Even if we know who will grab many of the Braves’ roster spots out of camp in 2023, Anthopoulos’ work continues.

“Candidly, I don’t feel like we’re set in every area,” he said.

He said the Braves have looked at adding starting pitching, particularly in the free-agent market than with a trade. They’ve also explored strengthening their bullpen and upgrading offensively.

A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed that the Braves looked into potentially signing Jacob deGrom, which could be a sign of their activity in the free-agent market. ESPN first reported this.

The Braves feel like they have room to improve in every area.

“You’d always like to add, you always want to be deep,” Anthopoulos said.

So, just because the Braves already feature a great roster doesn’t mean they’ll stay quiet throughout the rest of the offseason.