The Atlanta Braves have been creative in the past with regards to acquiring players via trade in the offseason.
Tim Hudson, Dan Uggla and Melky Cabrera (and Arodys Vizcaino) have been recent players the Braves have traded for during the offseason.
The Braves may have to go that route again.
They made center fielder Michael Bourn a $13.3 million qualifying offer, but he will decline that in search of a long-term deal.
Bourn could end of re-signing with the Braves, but my gut feeling is that he won't be back, as his agent Scott Boras will likely drive up the price for his client.
A player the Braves should seriously consider is Denard Span.
Span recorded 146 hits in 128 games last season, as well as a .342 on-base percentage (.06 lower than Bourn).
He also posted a strong WAR rating of 4.8—a WAR rating of 5 is considered an all-star caliber player.
He would allow the Braves to virtually keep the same batting order, and he could patrol center field in a similar fashion to Bourn.
It's also worth noting that Span is set to make $4.75 million in 2013 and $6.5 million in 2014. That is much more affordable than the $15 million Bourn is asking for.
The Braves always search for a value pickup, so Span would make sense. They could go a couple different directions in order to make Span an Atlanta Brave.
Trade Tommy Hanson
The Braves can afford to cut ties with Tommy Hanson with their great pitching depth.
Kris Medlen and Mike Minor had stunning second halves last season, and will be staples of the Braves' rotation for the foreseeable future.
They picked up options on Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm. Eventually they will want to see what young guys Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado can do, and don't forget that Brandon Beachy will be back at some point next season.
This makes Hanson replaceable.
The Minnesota Twins are looking for pitching help, as they ranked near the bottom of the American League in ERA last season.
The Twins would acquire a streaky pitcher in Hanson and may be willing to take a chance they can get the good Hanson rather than the bad.
Hanson was the top pitching prospect when he was called to the major leagues, and there's a reason for that.
His velocity has dropped slightly, but he still features good enough stuff to get hitters out.
Consistency has been the issue for Hanson, but the Twins could take that risk to bolster their rotation with their current outfield depth.
The Minnesota Twins could also look at the Braves' minor league system and ask for a younger prospect.
The Braves shouldn't have to give up either Teheran or Delgado to acquire Span, but they could sacrifice a secondary prospect.
This list includes Sean Gilmartin, J.R. Graham, Zeke Spruill and Alex Wood.
Although reluctant to give up on young pitchers, the Braves could easily center a deal around one of these guys for Span.
The left-handed Gilmartin is the most MLB-ready of the bunch, and would be an intriguing target for the Twins.
Graham, Spruill and Wood will need at least another year in the minors, but also are solid prospects.
The Braves are set on pitching for both this year and the future, with the likes of Medlen, Minor, Delgado, Teheran, Beachy—and farther down the road—Lucas Sims. Therefore, they can afford to trade one of their prospects.
It's something the Braves don't like to do, but they may need to in order to fill their center field need.
The Braves will also look at this year's free agent market in center field, which includes Angel Pagan and Shane Victorino.
This would likely be a short-term solution (two to three years).
Span is under contract through 2014 and has an option for 2015, and in a few years could wind up being a potential free agent target for the Braves.
Span would be 30 years old if he hit the free agent market in 2015, and will most likely not be as hot a target as Bourn.
Todd Cunningham is a potential long-term option in center field for the Braves, but he is not a surefire prospect like Jason Heyward.
That could mean the center field position being a short-term fill-in—much like first base was for years before Freddie Freeman came along.
Who knows? It may not happen this year, but this is something the Braves could end up exploring again in the future.