Braves making moves this off-season

Published 8:26 am Tuesday, December 4, 2012

During the last week, the Atlanta Braves have made a couple of significant roster moves.

First, they signed Tampa Bay Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton to a five-year, $75.25 million free agent contract. which is the highest contract in team history.

Then, they traded right handed starting pitcher Tommy Hanson to the Los Angeles Angels for right handed relief pitcher Jordan Walden.

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While Walden had 32 saves for the Angels in 2011, he had tendintis problems last season and finished with just one save.

Although Hanson, who was 13-10 for the Braves last season, was a solid starter, he was eligible for arbitration next season and would have reportedly made nearly $4 million in 2013.

I don’t know how much Walden will potentially help the Braves, considering his health problems, but I think trading Hanson was done primarily to free up his potential money to sign or trade for a left fielder.

With the retirement of Braves future Hall of fame third baseman Chipper Jones following last season, left fielder Martin Prado is being moved to third base.

Baseball’s winter meeting are going on this week in Nashville, Tenn., and I think by the time they are over the Braves will have a new left fielder.

I trust general manager Frank Wren to make some good moves to help the team.

With the exception of left field, the Braves seem to be virtually solid at every other position.

In the outfield with Upton will be gold glove right fielder Jason Hayward.

Around the infield with Prado will be slick-fielding, strong-armed shortstop Andrelton Simmons, power-hitting second baseman Dan Uggla and power-hitting first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Stating catcher Brian McCann will miss the first month or so of the season, due to offseason right shoulder surgery.

After backup catcher David Ross signed a two-year free agent contract with the Boston Red Sox in the off season, the Braves signed free agent catcher Gerald Laird, who was the backup catcher with the American League champion Detroit Tigers last season.

Laird will start the season behind the plate and stay there until McCann returns.

Even though Hanson is gone and right hander Brandon Beachy, a solid starter, will be out early in the season after undergoing Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in his pitching arm, the starting pitching staff seems solid.

It is led by veteran right hander and No. 1 starter Tim Hudson and also includes right hander Kris Medlen, left hander Mike Minor and left hander Paul Maholm, who was obtained from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline last season.

The bullpen is also solid, with fireballing right-handed closer Craig Kimbrel returning along with Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters — a pair of hard throwing left handed setup men.