Things the Atlanta Braves Still Need to Do Before the Start of Spring Training
In just one month, pitchers and catchers for the Atlanta Braves will report to spring training.
The Braves have enjoyed a relatively quiet offseason to this point.
General manager Frank Wren has made some minor moves, but nothing like last offseason in which the Braves traded for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson and signed B.J. Upton.
While the Braves don't have major holes to fill, there are some moves the Braves should make before spring training begins.
Here's a look at what the Braves should do before the start of spring training.
1. Trade Dan Uggla
With each passing day, it looks more likely that Dan Uggla will begin the 2014 season with the Atlanta Braves.
That is hard to believe after the way things ended in 2013 with Uggla being left off the playoff roster after hitting .179 in the regular season.
Moving on this offseason seemed to be best for both Uggla and the Braves.
It is unclear what Wren is asking in return or if any teams have shown interest in Uggla.
At this point in the offseason, Wren may have to lower his asking price to generate any serious interest.
This could play into spring training, but the Braves would undoubtedly like to have something worked out before spring training.
2. Sign Eric O'Flaherty
Eric O'Flaherty remains on the free-agent market.
The left-handed reliever has proved to be a reliable pitcher during his time in Atlanta.
O'Flaherty has compiled a 1.99 ERA and allowed just 11 home runs in his five years with the Braves.
Even though he will miss the first part of the season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, the Braves should look to re-sign the 28-year-old.
Bringing O'Flaherty back would give the Braves great depth from the left side out of the bullpen (Luis Avilan, Jonny Venters).
It would also give the Braves some security in case Venters doesn't return to form after his injury.
As spring training nears, I'd expect the Braves and O'Flaherty to reach an agreement.
3. Reach Deals with Arbitration-Eligible Players
The Braves still have a handful of players who are eligible to file for salary arbitration on Tuesday.
Those players include Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, Chris Johnson, Craig Kimbrel, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Jordan Schafer.
Wren would prefer to reach deals with all these players to avoid the arbitration process.
This is a major reason the Braves haven't been major factors on the free-agent market.
A large portion of their payroll will be spent on salary increases for these players (especially Freeman, Kimbrel and Minor).
The Braves have generally avoided arbitration hearings, so look for some deals to be reached in the near future.
4. Work on Long-Term Extensions
The Braves have some impressive, young talent that they should look to lock up long-term.
These long-term extensions help the team to save some money while giving the players financial security.
It can be risky, but in the cases of Freeman, Heyward, Kimbrel and Andrelton Simmons, the Braves would be wise to lock these guys up.
These are four key players for the organization, and the Braves could ensure their spots on the roster as the team will move into a new stadium in 2017.
I'm surprised there hasn't been more movement on extensions to this point in the offseason.
It could arguably be the most important aspect of this offseason for the Braves' future success.
*All statistics according to Baseball-Reference.
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