What is the Braves next big move?

How about signing Adam Wainwright next winter?

Macon TelegraphFebruary 17, 2013 

The Atlanta Braves had a very active offseason. They’ve locked up a center fielder (B.J. Upton) for the next five years. They acquired a new left fielder (Justin Upton) that is under control for the next three years.

The addition of the Upton brothers has made the Braves a younger team. The average age of the starting lineup last year was 28.75 years old. This year the projected starting lineup will have an average age of 26.25 years old.

Of course, the retirement of 40-year old Chipper Jones helped decrease that a great deal. But Andrelton Simmons is ready to take over at shortstop for the long-term. He’s 23 years old. And while a platoon could be in place to replace Jones at third, we went with 25-year old Juan Francisco in coming up with our average age.

Jones’ retirement was certainly the end of an era. It was the last true link to the historical 1990s, which was a magical time for Braves baseball.

The core of this team is now the Upton brothers, Simmons, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Craig Kimbrel. Those eight players have an average age of 24.9 years old.

But more roster changes could happen next offseason. The Braves have additional significant money coming off the books, as catcher Brian McCann, starting pitchers Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm and reliever Eric O’Flaherty will become free agents. Those four players account for $31.82 million dollars, or roughly one-third of what Atlanta’s payroll is projected for right now.

The Braves have admitted that the 2013 payroll can go as high as $98 million. They still have to settle the renewable contracts with the younger players, but the current projected payroll with estimations on those deals is right under $90 million. That gives the general manager Frank Wren significant money to play with.

He could either use part of that money to lock up some of his younger players in long-term deals. He could save it and use it in a trade to help the club, either in spring training or before the July 31 trade deadline. Or Wren could roll that money into next season to spend on the 2014 budget.

That flexibility is very dangerous for a general manager to have, and Wren is very fortunate to have a club that is admittedly tied to a bad local television contract in good financial shape regarding the future payroll.

There is no doubt as he looks at his future payrolls, Wren is going to have to lock down several of the key, young stars the Braves have under control. Heyward and Medlen are three seasons away from free agency, while Freeman and Kimbrel are four years away. Minor is under control for five more years and is two years from arbitration. Simmons still has three more years until arbitration.

Heyward is obviously the main player the Braves will want to lockup for the long-term. They may decide to wait on Medlen so they can see how he does this season as a full-time starting pitcher. But if he does well, Medlen might become a high priority a year from now to get under a long-term deal.

So next winter could be the time we see Atlanta try and get Heyward, Freeman, Medlen and Kimbrel under long-term contracts. The availability of more funds, due to the pending free agency of the four current players, will help if that is a goal.

But there is another factor to consider. Each major league team will receive an additional $20-$25 million from the new national television contracts with FOX, ESPN and TBS.

Last month Wren was on my radio show and sounded optimistic the additional money will go toward roster construction.

“What they (ownership and upper management) have always done is looked at our incoming revenue, and given us the ability to increase our payroll as the revenue grows,” Wren explained. “I don’t know what the formula will be or what the dollars will be, but that’s always been a constant – as our revenue grows, our payroll grows. Getting that extra money I think will be good for us as far as payroll is concerned, and will allow us to continue to grow our roster.

“I just don’t think we know exactly what it’s going to do. I’m relatively confident it will grow. I just don’t know at what rate.”

Wren is not going to admit right now what the new TV money will exactly do for the payroll, but he probably hopes the budget could increase from $98 million this year to around $115 million in 2014. With $31 million perhaps coming off the books, that would give Atlanta significant flexibility in adding new players and locking up existing players as well.

The comments made this week by Braves CEO Terry McGuirk to MLB.com gives more hope to Braves fans that the team is going to spend money on the payroll.

"Money is not going to stand between us and getting it done at this point because we are that close,” McGuirk said. I'm talking about [the] long term and short term. I'm talking about talent that is here and talent that isn't here. When we are this close, we are going to try to push it over the top.”

So how do the Braves use this financial flexibility?

Let’s first look at the four players who could leave after 2013. McCann is the biggest issue. He’s a six-time All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He’s a hometown kid who is loved by the fan base.

But as he enters his contract season, McCann is coming off a major shoulder surgery and the worst statistical season of his career. There is no doubt the shoulder contributed to his .230 batting average, so McCann is really needing a strong comeback season in 2013.

The bigger issue, however, is McCann’s age. He turns 29 this week. So as he goes into free agency next winter, he’ll be looking for a long-term deal that will start in the year he turns 30.

The age of 30 for catchers is almost like that for NFL running backs. There seems to be a red flag, as people wonder how much longer catchers can be productive as they get into their 30s.

If McCann bounces back this season and regains his status as the National League’s premiere offensive catcher, it’s going to be easier for him to get a deal that will pay him as one of the best catchers in the game. But if his numbers are again below normal, McCann will be hard-pressed to get that big long-term contract.

The Braves probably should have torn up his contract two years ago and locked McCann down so his next big contract would have ended when he was 32 instead of when he’s 34. But they didn’t and are now faced with a potential dilemma.

Last year, when the Cardinals signed Yadier Molina to a five-year, $72 million dollar contract, with an option for a sixth year at $15 million, most believed that set the bar for McCann’s future deal. At the time, McCann was considered better than Molina, at least offensively. Molina then went out and had a McCann-type season at the plate. Molina has won the Gold Glove the last five years in a row, so he’s always been better defensively than McCann.

Before McCann’s injury, there was a belief that on the open market McCann could get at least what Molina got from the Cardinals. That’s in question now, at least until McCann proves he’s fully healed from his shoulder injury. All signs so far are positive that he has a good chance at a solid comeback.

But will the Braves want to make that type of investment in McCann? They’ll have the resources to do so, as they could simply allow O’Flaherty to walk away, which would then add up to more than the $15 million or so that would be needed to offer McCann. Plus, again, they’ll have the additional TV revenue available to make it happen.

Even though they’ll have the financial resources to get a new deal done, do they want to sign a soon-to-be 30-year-old catcher when they may have two cheaper internal options that could take McCann’s place?

Atlanta has Christian Bethancourt ready for a full season in Double-A Mississippi. Bethancourt is considered the best defensive catching prospect in the minor leagues. He’s been compared to Benito Santiago for his strong arm and unparalleled pop time (1.8 seconds) to second base. Baseball-reference.com reports that Bethancourt has thrown out 38% of would-be base stealers in his minor league career.

Bethancourt will be a big leaguer due to his defense. But his ability to be a full-time starter one day, including possibly taking over for McCann in Atlanta, will be fully based on whether he can show he can hit consistently. Bethancourt has shown glimpses of solid potential as a hitter, but he has also been inconsistent at times. For example, he did very well in the Arizona Fall League in 2011 at the plate, but then struggled more in Double-A last season.

Bethancourt must bounce back from his own injury. He fractured his left hand last summer and played in only 71 games in the Southern League. The Braves need to see him have a complete and healthy season in Double-A to truly judge his potential to replace McCann.

Then there’s Evan Gattis, who was drafted and signed as a catcher. The presence of both McCann and Bethancourt forced the Braves to consider Gattis at other positions. He played a bit at first base in Rome in 2011, but the Braves are set there with Freeman. Then last season Atlanta moved Gattis to the outfield. He did well, but then Gattis hurt his left wrist and missed most of the second half of last season.

Gattis returned in the Venezuelan winter league and hit 16 home runs and slugged .595 in 53 games. He might be Atlanta’s backup catcher to start April with McCann coming back from his shoulder injury. But Gattis will likely see more time behind the plate now that the outfield is set for the next three years.

So if Gattis shows his defensive skills can improve and that he can continue his assault against opposing pitchers, he could at least be in the conversation as a potential replacement for McCann.

The Braves could have an interesting dilemma if Bethancourt does well in Double-A with the bat and if Gattis were to go to Triple-A Gwinnett and do well with the glove. Then what do they do? It’s almost like if they could merge Bethancourt and Gattis, they’d have the next Johnny Bench.

They’ll have time to see how that shakes out this season, and it’s good to know that if McCann’s contract demands are too high for their liking, particularly considering his age, they do have potential internal candidates.

But do not believe this year is a slam dunk to be McCann’s swan song in Atlanta. Again, he’s extremely popular being a hometown kid. If McCann proves he’s healthy and can return to being one of the most dangerous bats in the game, the Braves will at least explore contract talks with him before he hits free agency.

Then you have Hudson, who has been with Atlanta for eight years now. He’s making a very reasonable $9 million this season, which is pretty good for someone that has averaged just over 16 wins in the last three seasons.

However, like McCann, Hudson’s age is his biggest enemy. Hudson will turn 38 in July, so he’s not going to be angling for a long-term deal, and it’s unlikely, even if he wins 16 games again, that he’ll get much more than the $9 million he is currently making.

Hudson is from just down the road in Phenix City, Alabama. He does a tremendous amount of charity work in the Atlanta area. He’s repeatedly said he never wants to leave the Braves and wants to finish his career in Atlanta.

So unless Hudson shows a tremendous downturn in his ability this season, the Braves would probably be nuts to let him walk away. He’s already had Tommy John surgery, and it was good to see how well he bounced back last season after having back surgery. Hudson looked like a top-of-the-rotation pitcher as he won 16 games.

Hudson is three wins away from 200 in his career. It’s not out of the question for him to have three more solid seasons and approach 240 wins, which would put him in an interesting conversation for Hall of Fame voters. He’s had that good of a career.

Considering all these issues, the Braves may want to keep Hudson past 2013 as long as he does well this season. Would Hudson accept a two-year extension for $7.5 million each season? That would keep him through his 40th birthday in 2015, and it would likely be enough to allow Hudson to finish as an Atlanta Brave.

Again, it’s unlikely any team would give Hudson more than what he’s making now, considering his age. And if it meant enough to Hudson to stay in Atlanta, the Braves could perhaps even get a hometown discount for a veteran pitcher and save a million dollars or so from his current rate.

It’s very unlikely Maholm will be retained past this season. He’s making $6.5 million this season, and if Maholm does well he could perhaps demand $8-$10 million on the open market as a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher. But with Atlanta’s depth, it’s unlikely they’d go that high on a future contract for Maholm, who turns 31 this June.

Then there’s O’Flaherty, who was recently named by MLB Network as the 6th best relief pitcher in baseball. That’s pretty good for a lefty specialist, but his numbers back it up. O’Flaherty, who just turned 28 earlier this month, has a 1.95 ERA in his four seasons with the Braves.

He’s scheduled to make $4.32 million this season. With Kimbrel in place as the Atlanta closer, it is unlikely O’Flaherty is going to have a larger role than the one he has now as Kimbrel’s main setup man. Jonny Venters has the same role, and he’s three years away from free agency.

O’Flaherty could be the next middle relief – setup man that could get a huge contract on the open market. Look at Mike Adams, who has pitched with the Brewers, Padres and Rangers and has a 2.28 career ERA in eight seasons. Adams just signed a three-year deal with the Phillies for $18 million. If O’Flaherty does well again this season, he will command a similar contract in free agency.

Along with Venters, the Braves have left-hander Luis Avilan, who was surprisingly solid last year as a rookie. If Avilan does well again this season, it might be easier for the Braves to let O’Flaherty walk and allocate his money somewhere else (like in a long-term deal to Kimbrel, for example).

So of the four Atlanta free agents for next offseason, Hudson is perhaps the most likely to stay, followed by McCann. It is unlikely Maholm and O’Flaherty will be re-signed past 2013.

What might the Braves need in the future? That’s the next question to ask in finding out what the next big move might be for the team.

They don’t need a first baseman. Freeman is under control through 2016. Dan Uggla is under contract through 2015, so second base is safe for three more seasons. Simmons just got up last summer, so he’s got six full seasons before free agency.

The outfield is under control for three more seasons. Justin Upton and Jason Heyward can both become free agents after the 2015 season. B.J. Upton is under contract through 2017.

The most uncertain position in the field for the long-term is third base, where Francisco will battle newly acquired Chris Johnson for playing time there this season.

Francisco will turn 26 in June, while Johnson will play this season at 28. Could either of these players do well enough this season to make the Braves feel comfortable about third base for a while? Sure. Francisco is under control for five more years, while Johnson can’t leave as a free agent until after the 2016 season.

So if Francisco or Johnson can establish themselves as a dependable starting third baseman, this will not be a big need for the future. We just might not know until we see how this season plays out. But if third base is an area of concern, this might be the main position the Braves seek to improve for the future.

Internally, the Braves have Joe Leonard, Edward Salcedo and Kyle Kubitz as long-term possibilities for third base. But all three players must do much better in 2013 to show they can be considered as potential starting third basemen in the big leagues.

What about the bullpen? Well, the Braves have the best closer in baseball, and the key is to simply lock up Craig Kimbrel for the long-term. It would be a shock if they do not get that done before he can even sniff free agency in the 2016-2017 offseason.

Venters has three more years under control, as does long reliever Cristhian Martinez. Newly acquired Jordan Walden will likely be the 7th inning setup man this season. He’s got four more years until he’s a free agent. Luis Avilan and Cory Gearrin are both still under a year of major league service time, so they are here for a while.

Then look to the rotation. Hudson’s contract is up after this year, and again, if he does well in 2013 you can expect the Braves to want him to stick around for another year or two.

Medlen is three years away from free agency. Minor and Julio Teheran, who will likely be the fifth starter to begin the season, are both years away from leaving through free agency.

The Braves will have to replace Maholm, and expect Brandon Beachy to be at the top of the list. Beachy will be back in midseason, and he could squeeze someone out of a job if he’s fully recovered and someone (like Teheran) is struggling.

If Beachy does well in his comeback, he most definitely will be part of the 2014 rotation. Remember, he was one of the best pitchers in baseball before his elbow popped. With the success of Tommy John surgery, there’s reason to believe Beachy can get back to where he was before his injury.

Beachy could, in effect, replace Maholm in the 2014 rotation. If Atlanta re-signs Hudson, that could give the Braves Hudson, Medlen, Minor, Beachy and Teheran in the rotation for next season. If Teheran falters, there are other options like Sean Gilmartin, Daniel Rodriguez and new top prospect J.R. Graham.

But if the Braves have the money to spend, thanks to the money coming off the books next winter and the increase in payroll thanks to the new national TV contracts, would they consider investing in a veteran starting pitcher to compliment the young arms for the next five years?

Hudson’s time as the veteran in the rotation is short. At the most, Hudson has three years left, and if the Braves aren’t comfortable with his work this season, he’ll likely have to get those last two seasons somewhere else. If he and Maholm both left next winter, Medlen would be the veteran pitcher in the rotation, and this is going to be his first full season as a big league starter.

With the Braves history, you’d assume the Braves would prefer to have a pitcher with experience in the rotation. And even if they keep Hudson for another year or two after 2013, it might behoove them to find a pitcher in his late 20s or early 30s that has more significant experience and success as a big league starting pitcher.

There is a name that pops off the page as the perfect candidate, and he’ll be available next offseason as a free agent. It’s Adam Wainwright, who was a first round pick of the Braves in 2000 and was traded to the Cardinals in the J.D. Drew trade in December of 2003.

Last week St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak admitted the Cardinals and Wainwright were not close on an extension. Wainwright is entering the final season of his deal with a $12 million dollar paycheck. It’s been reported the Cardinals prefer to keep the future contract to three or four seasons, as Wainwright will turn 32 this August.

But Wainwright has a lot on his side to command a longer contract. He is a season removed from Tommy John surgery, and last year in his comeback season he made 32 starts and racked up 198.2 innings. So worries about his elbow should have been erased.

In his five seasons as a starting pitcher, Wainwright is 78-47 with a 3.14 ERA. That’s a 15-game winner on average. He finished third in the NL Cy Young voting in 2009 and then second in 2010.

Wainwright will undoubtedly get several offers on the free agent market. Again, his age might be an issue. But a team that would give Wainwright a five-year contract would have him locked up through his mid-30s, as he would turn 37 at the end of his fifth year in such a deal.

When the Braves locked up Hudson after he was acquired from Oakland in 2004, he was about to turn 30 in the middle of his first season with Atlanta. So his four-year extension took him through the season he turned 34 years old.

That’s a tad younger than Wainwright. Hudson was 29 – four months shy of his 30th birthday - when he signed his extension. Wainwright will be 32 this winter when he gets his new contract. But the premise is the same. If Atlanta wants a veteran starting pitcher that has had great success, just like Hudson had at the time they got him from Oakland, Wainwright will be a great option.

Wainwright was on the mound when the Cardinals won the World Series in 2005. He was injured when they won it in 2011, but he was still on the team and therefore has two World Series rings. That’s very valuable for someone to lead your rotation to have.

But the biggest thing is the Braves know this pitcher. They drafted Wainwright. He was in the farm system for three-plus seasons. At the time he was traded to the Cardinals, the Braves saw him as a potential fourth or fifth starter. Instead, Wainwright has become an ace.

Wainwright was crushed when he was traded by the Braves. He’s from St. Simons Island, in South Georgia. There was nothing Wainwright wanted more than to pitch for the Atlanta Braves. I covered him in his minor league career for the Braves. We had a minor league TV show during his three years as a Braves’ minor league pitcher, and even had a weekly segment on the show with Adam in his first full season of professional baseball in Macon, GA.

There is no doubt in my mind that if Atlanta made a five-year investment in Wainwright, he’d be a great influence on the young pitchers. Even if they brought Hudson back for two more seasons, Wainwright would be in place from 2016 through 2018 as the veteran starting pitcher. Even in 2016, only one of the current Atlanta young starters (Medlen) would be over the age of 30 or older. Medlen will turn 30 in the offseason before the 2016 season.

So the need for a veteran starting pitcher is there for the long-term. They need to go get their Hudson, much like they did in 2004 when they got the right-hander from Oakland. Wainwright would take great pride in putting on the Braves uniform again, particularly if he’d instantly take a lead role as the veteran of the Atlanta starting rotation.

Can the Braves do this, and still bring back Hudson and sign some of the young players to long-term contracts?

The answer is yes.

Now, granted, if the Braves wanted to sign Wainwright this winter, it might mean the end of McCann’s career in Atlanta. They’d probably have to sacrifice McCann’s $12 million dollars and, in effect, allocate that money towards Wainwright’s new deal.

But if Bethancourt or Gattis (or both for that matter) proved they were ready to become starting catchers at the big league level, the Braves may prefer to invest in a starting pitcher that has already had elbow surgery over a catcher who would be in his mid-30s at the end of a long-term contract.

The Braves could pretty much give Wainwright the money that is going to McCann and Maholm this season, which equals $18.5 million. And if Wainwright has another season where he has 15-20 wins, he’ll likely command close to $20 million per season.

The Cardinals have already expressed skepticism in providing long-term deals for a lot of money. They allowed Albert Pujols to walk away last year. Then this offseason they allowed Kyle Lohse, who is 34 years old, to walk away as a free agent and he is still unsigned.

So will the Cardinals be stubborn about Wainwright? Well, if he does well again this season he’ll want that five-year contract. And if St. Louis is unwilling to commit that many years in a new deal, it could set the table for a return to the Braves for their former first round draft pick.

The Braves could also use Eric O’Flaherty’s money, which is $4.32 million dollars, to go toward the increase in Justin Upton’s deal. Upton is scheduled to go from $9.75 million this season to $14.25 next year. That’s almost exactly the amount that will come off the books when O’Flaherty leaves, which is likely.

If the Braves did sign Wainwright to be their veteran starter for the next five seasons, they could then take the pitching excess and go get a young third baseman. Now again, Francisco or Johnson could show that there will not be a long-term need at that position. But if the Braves do need to go get a Nick Castellanos from Detroit or a Chase Headley or Jedd Gyorko (similar to Brett Lawrie from Toronto) from San Diego or a Nolan Arenado from Colorado, they’d have the pitching to offer in a potential trade for a top young third prospect.

How good would Atlanta’s rotation be if it included Wainwright, Hudson, Medlen, Minor and Beachy? Well, that’s pretty solid on paper. If Teheran lives up to his potential, they would have a tremendous trade chip to go get another young position player.

If Wainwright basically replaced McCann and Maholm on the payroll sheet, and if Hudson is brought back in 2014 at pretty much the same range he’s at now at $9 million, the Braves would still have the additional money from the increase in the national TV deals to afford larger contracts for the younger players.

Here’s an example of what the 2014 payroll could look like in such a scenario:

Adam Wainwright

$18.5000

NEW

Tim Hudson

$8.0000

NEW

Kris Medlen

$4.7500

ARB EST

Mike Minor

$0.7500

RENEWAL

Brandon Beachy

$1.2500

ARB EST

Craig Kimbrel

$1.5000

ARB EST

Jonny Venters

$2.2300

ARB EST

Jordan Walden

$1.5000

ARB EST

Cory Gearrin

$0.6000

RENEWAL

Cristhian Martinez

$0.8500

ARB EST

Luis Avilan

$0.5500

RENEWAL

NEW RELIEVER

$1.0000

NEW

Gattis/Bethancourt

$0.6000

 

Gerald Laird

$1.5000

 

Freddie Freeman

$3.5000

ARB EST

Dan Uggla

$13.0000

 

Andrelton Simmons

$0.6500

RENEWAL

Chris Johnson

$3.4500

ARB EST

Ramiro Pena

$0.6500

ARB EST

Paul Janish

$0.8250

ARB EST

Juan Francisco

$0.6000

RENEWAL

Jason Heyward

$5.2500

ARB EST

B.J. Upton

$13.4500

 

Justin Upton

$14.2500

 

Reed Johnson

$1.6000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

$100.8050

 

 

 

 

 

So replacing Maholm and McCann with Wainwright and either Bethancourt or Gattis (who would be on rookie contracts) and then giving O’Flaherty’s money to Justin Upton would basically put the payroll right over where McGuirk wants it for this season.

Now let’s give increased contracts to a few of the young players who are arbitration –eligible for 2014 that might deserve long-term contracts. These deals would probably be back-loaded, so the higher salaries would be at the end of the contract.

Adam Wainwright

$18.5000

NEW

Tim Hudson

$8.0000

NEW

Kris Medlen

$8.0000

RENEWED DEAL

Mike Minor

$0.7500

RENEWAL

Brandon Beachy

$1.2500

ARB EST

Craig Kimbrel

$6.0000

RENEWED DEAL

Jonny Venters

$2.2300

ARB EST

Jordan Walden

$1.5000

ARB EST

Cory Gearrin

$0.6000

RENEWAL

Cristhian Martinez

$0.8500

ARB EST

Luis Avilan

$0.5500

RENEWAL

NEW RELIEVER

$1.0000

NEW

Gattis/Bethancourt

$0.6000

 

Gerald Laird

$1.5000

 

Freddie Freeman

$5.0000

RENEWED DEAL

Dan Uggla

$13.0000

 

Andrelton Simmons

$0.6500

RENEWAL

Chris Johnson

$3.4500

ARB EST

Ramiro Pena

$0.6500

ARB EST

Paul Janish

$0.8250

ARB EST

Juan Francisco

$0.6000

RENEWAL

Jason Heyward

$10.0000

RENEWED DEAL

B.J. Upton

$13.4500

 

Justin Upton

$14.2500

 

Reed Johnson

$1.6000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

$114.8050

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This gave Kris Medlen an $8 million dollar first-year salary in a new long-term contract, instead of the $4.75 he would probably get through his second year of arbitration. This would be necessary if he continues to pitch as well as he did at the end of 2012.

This gave Craig Kimbrel a $6 million dollar deal, which would probably be double or triple the amount he would get in his first year of arbitration next winter.

This gave Freddie Freeman a $5 million dollar deal, which would probably be $1.5 million more than what he would get through arbitration.

And finally, this gave Jason Heyward a $10 million dollar deal, which would probably be twice what he would get in his second year of arbitration.

In this scenario, the Braves would be right near $115 million dollars for the 2014 payroll – bringing back Hudson at a minimal decrease in his current salary and replacing Maholm with Wainwright, along with allowing McCann to walk and replace him with a rookie catcher – either Bethancourt or Gattis.

As long as Liberty Media allows the Braves to use the new national TV money on the payroll, this scenario is very possible.

It will allow the Braves to take care of its young talent by locking them up into long-term deals, and at the same time give the rotation a tremendous veteran starter who can lead the younger arms moving forward in the next five seasons.

So after all the wheeling and dealing done by Frank Wren this offseason, next winter might be just as much fun. Atlanta needs Adam Wainwright, and if they are willing to make that five-year investment in him to be their next ace pitcher, he’d undoubtedly love to come home and finish his career where it all began.

Yes, the Braves took care of a lot of long-term issues with the additions of the Upton brothers this offseason, but they will have another chance next winter to make sure this core of talent is around for five more years, and at the same time add one of the best starting pitchers in the game in Wainwright.

That is the Braves next big move, and if all falls into place, they can make it happen.

 

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

 

 

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