PHOENIX – The Braves made more moves than any team at the General Mangers Meetings, and they’re just getting started.
After re-signing starter/reliever Josh Collmenter at the beginning of the week and signing free-agent starter R.A. Dickey to a one-year, $8 million contract Thursday on the final day of the meetings, the Braves were planning add at least one more starter and possibly a catcher – Brian McCann remains a possibility — and versatile bench player.
“We’re buying and selling,” said Braves general manager John Coppolella, as he packed a suitcase Thursday and prepared to return his rental car to the Phoenix airport for a mid-afternoon flight to Atlanta. “Not that we’re going to move anybody in the outfield, but we’re always looking for ways to get better.
“I think we’ve got a real creative group and there’s going to be a couple of different things we want to do as we try to go about it.”
Asked to clarify that quote about the outfielders before it could possibly be misinterpreted, Coppolella said “We are not looking to move any outfield guys.”
He reiterated what the Braves were still searching for, including another innings-eating starter and potentially a catcher, preferably a left-handed hitter. Trading for Yankees veteran catcher McCann, the perennial former Braves All-Star, remains a possibility.
“For sure one starter, possibly two, and it could come either through free agency or trade,” Coppolella said of his remaining shopping list. “Possible catcher to pair with Tyler Flowers, and possible super-utility type guy. We made progress on those fronts. We’re talking to teams about a number of different deals. Just got a lot going.”
That includes talks with agents for multiple catchers – Jason Castro, Nick Hundley and high-priced Matt Wieters are among available free agents – and teams willing to trade a catcher, including Coppolella’s old employer, the Yankees.
The early asking price for McCann was way too high, but the Braves and Yankees have had further discussions. Coppolella said they won’t wait for any particular free agent or trade target if they can make another deal they like sooner. Patience isn’t a virtue with the Braves in their offseason manuevering.
“Cash has got to do what he’s got to do,” Coppolella said of Yankees GM Brian Cashman. “We do have interest in Brian (McCann), we made them offers. If Cash can get better deals, he’s got to do what he’s got to do. I’ve got the utmost respect for him. If it works out for us, great. If it doesn’t, I totally understand.
“(Cashman) has been transparent, he’s been really good throughout the trade talks. It’s one of those things where if we don’t match up, we don’t match up.”
Asked about the competition for players, Coppolella said, “I think the word for us would be musical chairs. It’s kind of like you’ve got concurrent conversations going. We’ve told teams, we’ve told agents, if we do something else that may take you out of the mix. We’re not trying to rush you, we’re just trying to be transparent that we’re not going to put all of our eggs into one basket.”
The Braves wasted no time signing Dickey, who fit the description well for what the Braves wanted to add.
“We’re looking for innings,” Coppolella said. “We’re looking for guys who can suck up innings so we don’t have to kill our bullpen. We’re looking for guys who can pitch innings and short-term deals, so we were thrilled to be able to get this done early and cross this off our list.”
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