For the past few weeks, one of the major rumors in the baseball surrounded the Atlanta Braves and their willingness to shop both Justin Upton and Evan Gattis.
After trading Jason Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals, that rumor suggested that new President of Baseball Operations John Hart was looking to rebuild his ball club, and shoot for 2017 when their new ballpark opens.
That might not be the case after all. Hart was on MLB Network Radio earlier today, and he shot down the idea that his club is actively looking to deal Upton and Gattis. This is what he told Jim Bowden of ESPN and Jim Duquette on The Front Office:
Upton’s market has heated up over the past few weeks, and why not. He is one of the best young outfielders in baseball, and at least 10 or 12 teams are looking to acquire an outfielder including the San Diego Padres, Baltimore Orioles, and Seattle Mariners.
At a time when power is scarce, Upton is a commodity that many clubs desire. He is coming off a season in which he hit 29 HR, and an OPS of .833. His RBI total is especially impressive given how bad the Braves offense was last season. The Braves scored just 573 runs last season which was good for 29th in the MLB.
The 27-year old veteran is set to hit the free agent market next winter, and while the Braves probably don’t have the financial flexibility to pay him $100 million-plus, other teams looking for a corner outfielder and power will gladly pay up.
As I mentioned above, the Braves probably don’t have the money to re-sign Upton when he becomes a free agent. However, Hart thinks that it’s possible that the Braves could re-sign Upton to a long term deal. This is what he told Duquette.
Meanwhile, Gattis has also received interest from several teams including the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, and Miami Marlins. Gattis has averaged 33 HR per 600 plate appearances. Last season he hit .263 with 22 HR and 62 RBI’s and a .810 OPS.
He is just 28 years old, and after what Hart told Bowden, it doesn’t look like Atlanta is ready to trade him away. The Braves see Gattis as a LF moving forward, and see Christian Bethancourt as their primary catcher.
The Athletics have been talked about the most over the past 48 hours in terms of a trade involving Upton and Gattis. The thought was that starter Jeff Samardzija would be the “bait.”
However, Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweeted this morning that their haven’t been any recent trade discussions between the two teams.
Hart also told Bowden and Duquette that the Braves have talked to free agent starter Jon Lester, but he is probably the wrong guy at the wrong time for the Braves thanks to the bad deals that were given to B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla by the previous front office.
He also told them that the Braves don’t plan to be in on any free agents that declined qualifying offers.
It will be interesting to see what the Braves do at the upcoming Winter Meetings, but it seems that at least for now, Hart has no plans to get rid of Upton or Gattis.
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