Wren gets ball rolling on potential trades

CHICAGO -- Before Frank Wren caught a flight Wednesday from Chicago to Phoenix to see Braves pitching prospects in the Arizona Fall League, the Braves general manager met with teams interested in some of his team's older pitchers.

The Braves have a surplus of starting pitchers, and during the three-day general managers meetings they talked with teams about trading one of them.

"We have valuable assets that almost every club here is looking for, so I think we'll be patient and watch how things develop in the first part of the winter," Wren said. "Between now and Indianapolis [site of the winter meetings from Dec. 7-10], I'm sure we'll have a lot of other discussions, but we're not in a great rush."

The Braves are expected to announce Thursday that Tim Hudson has signed a three-year contract extension. It was all but completed last week, but Hudson had previous travel commitments that delayed an MRI, the last step of his physical exam.

Once Hudson is signed, the Braves will have six proven starters, including phenom Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens, both presumably off-limits.

While Wren won't tip his hand publicly, an executive from another team said the Braves would prefer to trade Derek Lowe, but also seem willing to move Javier Vazquez or Kenshin Kawakami. The question remains: Can the Braves find a team willing to assume all or most of the $45 million that Lowe is owed over the next three seasons?

The Braves are looking to add a power hitter and might have to fill holes in the bullpen and/or first base, depending whether they retain closers Mike Gonzalez or Rafael Soriano and first baseman Adam LaRoche, all free agents.

"We had some meetings with clubs yesterday and did some additional talking last night and this morning, so I think we've got a better lay of the land from a standpoint of who we match up well with," Wren said.

He said it was too early to know whether the Braves would try to re-sign LaRoche or offer arbitration to Soriano and Gonzalez.

"I think a lot of those will go up to the deadline," Wren said, referring to the Dec. 1 deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their free agents, "because we're in a situation where a lot of people will take a wait-and-see attitude as it pertains to what the market might be. ... Until we see something a little more definitive, I think a lot of us are going to be in that position."

Schafer update

Wren said center fielder Jordan Schafer is recovering well from late-season wrist surgery and expects to get the cast off in the next couple of weeks, a few weeks sooner than expected.

Schafer won't play winter ball but should be ready for spring training. However, the Braves won't put pressure on Schafer, who was their opening-day center fielder last season as a rookie, but was demoted two months later.

“I think we’ll just watch him in spring training. I don’t think we have any preconceived ideas," Wren said of Schafer, who has missed a lot of time the past two seasons for injuries and a 50-game suspension.

"He just needs to play. I think the likelihood is he’ll be in the minor leagues to start the season, but we’re not going to predetermine that in November."