As Winter Meetings begin, Braves could be busy

As Winter Meetings begin, Braves could be busy

SAN DIEGO -- The Braves have already been quite active during the Hot Stove season. But the flurry of transactions completed over the past few weeks might have simply set the stage for a few other moves that could impact the club's future.

Braves president of baseball operations John Hart and his staff are expected to remain aggressive during this week's Winter Meetings, which begin on Monday morning in San Diego.

Along with sending Jason Heyward to the Cardinals in a deal that brought potential front-line starter Shelby Miller to Atlanta, the Braves have plucked outfielder Nick Markakis and right-handed reliever Jim Johnson off the free-agent market. Now, they will have to determine whether they want to trade Justin Upton or Evan Gattis.

Speculation about the futures of Upton and Gattis will likely highlight many of the Braves rumors at this year's Winter Meetings, which once again will bring all of Major League Baseball's top executives and agents to one location to discuss potential trades and signings.

The Braves need to add at least one more Major League-ready starting pitcher and assess their outfield needs, which will be influenced by any decision involving Upton and Gattis. They might also attempt to find a second baseman to bridge the gap until their top prospect Jose Peraza is deemed ready to make the jump to the big leagues.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez will be present to discuss all potential deals with Hart and assistant general manager John Coppolella. Gonzalez will spend time on Tuesday afternoon talking to media members about some of his plans for the 2015 season.

MLB.com's reporters are prepared to chronicle and update this event, which will conclude with Thursday morning's Rule 5 Draft. Check MLB.com, braves.com and the @mlbbowman Twitter feed to follow this week's news.

Fans are encouraged to express their opinions and suggestions in the comments section below the stories that will be posted on braves.com. Do you think the Braves should trade Upton or Gattis? Or do you think it would be in their best long-term interest to deal both? Which starting pitcher would you like to see in Atlanta next year?

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.