Meridian Star

Sports

July 26, 2013

Braves GM willing to pay for pitching

ATLANTA —      Braves general manager Frank Wren said Friday the "tightest market I've ever seen" could make it difficult for the team to trade for a starting pitcher to replace Tim Hudson.

     Wren said the Braves have sufficient depth to withstand the loss of Hudson without a trade, but he also says he's willing to pay for a pitcher who could help them win the World Series.

     No updates were immediately available Friday on Hudson's season-ending surgery on his broken right ankle. He was injured Wednesday night when the Mets' Eric Young Jr. inadvertently stepped on the back of the pitcher's lower right leg at first base.

     Asked how Hudson's injury affects his search for help before Wednesday's trade deadline, Wren said "I don't know if it will change anything."

     Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Brandon Beachy, recovering from right elbow ligament-replacement surgery in June 2012, will take Hudson's rotation spot Monday night against Colorado.

     Paul Maholm, who left his start at the White Sox on July 20 with a bruised left wrist, may miss only one more start.

     "We'll get him back and things will start to normalize a little bit," said Wren of Maholm. "Then we'll see over the next five days what's available in the trade market and does it really improve us and is that the direction we should go, whether starting pitching or bullpen help."

     Wren confirmed that Braves special assistant to the general manager Jim Fregosi was in Chicago when Jake Peavy, often mentioned in trade speculation, started for the White Sox on Thursday. Wren said Fregosi's scouting trip "had been planned for weeks and weeks."

     "He was going to be seeing that White Sox series because they had pitchers available that fit what we're looking for," Wren said. "So you can't read too much into where our scouts are."

     The Braves also have been linked with Houston's Bud Norris and Kansas City's Ervin Santana. Wren said the trade options are slim.

     "I think it's the tightest market I've ever seen," Wren said. "I've been at the major league level doing this since 1991, and in 22 years I've never seen a trade market as tight and as thin in the number of available players.

     "I think a big part of that is with the addition of the wild card there are so many teams that are still close enough that they're not ready to give up. They're not ready to start trading. There's a lot more of us that are in it than are out of it and it's a real seller's market. We're working through that."

Wren said he normally has two legal pages filled with potential trade scenarios. This year he said the names of players and potential trade partners fill only half of a page.

Wren said adding payroll is not an issue.

     "It's going to be the talent we have to give up and it's also understanding how much of an upgrade a particular player is for us," he said. "In the market are there pitchers out there who would make us better? Yes. The number of them is pretty low."

     The NL East-leading Braves began Friday's schedule eight games ahead of Washington and Philadelphia. Wren said his focus is on the final two months of the regular season, but he added he's looking for a pitcher who could improve a postseason rotation.

     "I think you're looking at big picture as far as we want to win the World Series," Wren said. "So is there a guy that really makes that kind of difference? If there is, I think you're willing to pay for it. If there's not a guy you see as a key contributor to a playoff team if you get there, probably you're less likely to give up a lot."

Gonzalez and Wren said they are confident Hudson, 38, will return next season.

"I have no doubt in my mind the way he goes about his business," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said Hudson can help on the bench in the final two months.

     "All the guys know he's a beloved teammate and friend," Gonzalez said. "I think we'll rally behind Huddy and we'll be fine. I told him I want him here and in uniform as soon as possible."

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