Braves have 'limited discussions' with clubs on J-Up, Gattis

Braves have 'limited discussions' with clubs on J-Up, Gattis

SAN DIEGO -- As media members and rival executives were discussing various hot topics, including potential trades involving Justin Upton and Evan Gattis, Braves president of baseball operations John Hart and his staff were discussing ways to fill out their 2015 roster and strengthen the organization's future.

The Braves came to the Winter Meetings seeking a fifth starter and a short-term stopgap at second base until top prospect Jose Peraza is deemed ready for the Major League level. But at the same time, they realize they have an opportunity to strengthen the club on a long-term basis with trades that would include Upton or Gattis.

"We've had some conversations about some players, but there is nothing with any legs on it right now with [Upton and Gattis]," Hart said as he spoke to reporters early Monday evening.


Winter Meetings action

Day 4: Dec. 11 Transaction Official?
OF Matt Kemp
C Tim Federowicz
Traded to Padres No
C Yasmani Grandal
RHP Joe Wieland
RHP Zach Eflin
Traded to Dodgers No
OF Yoenis Cespedes
RHP Alex Wilson
Traded to Tigers Yes
RHP Rick Porcello Traded to Red Sox Yes
RHP Ervin Santana Four-year deal with Twins No
LHP Mat Latos Traded to Marlins No
RHP Anthony DeSclafani
C Chad Wallach
Traded to Reds No
RHP Justin Masterson One-year deal with Red Sox No
RHP Alfredo Simon Traded to Tigers Yes
RHP Jonathon Crawford
IF Eugenio Suarez
Traded to Reds Yes
LHP Ross Detwiler Traded to Rangers No
OF John Mayberry Jr. One-year deal with Mets No
RHP Andre Rienzo Traded to Marlins Yes
LHP Dan Jennings Traded to White Sox Yes

With last week's signing of right fielder Nick Markakis, the Braves essentially set the stage that they will have to at least trade one of the two aforementioned players and have the other play left field.

Hart indicated that he had "limited discussions" with other clubs involving Gattis and Upton on Monday. But the seasoned executive knows that interest in these two players could intensify once Melky Cabrera decides where he wants to fill a corner outfield spot next season.

"Clubs certainly have interest in offense and the bats," Hart said. "They look at the market that is out there. People look at what they can do with free agents before they part with the pieces that are going to be necessary to satisfy getting a player or players of this caliber."

Upton seems to be appealing to numerous clubs, including the Padres, Rangers and Mariners. Lessening his potential value on the trade market is the fact that he has just one more year left on his contract and stands to be one of the most attractive players on next winter's free-agent market.

While Upton is obviously the more established option for teams looking to add offensive punch to their outfield mix, some clubs might be more interested in Gattis because he will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2018 season.

Because they have the option to keep Gattis' right-handed power potential in Atlanta for the next four years, the Braves have indicated that they will only move him for a significant return.

The Royals showed interest in Gattis a few weeks ago, but quickly backed away when the Braves asked for Yordano Ventura, who could blossom into a legitimate ace within the next few years.

While the Braves are also seeking a strong return for Upton, the fact that he is entering his walk season might make it difficult for him to garner a return that proves to be as strong as the one Atlanta got for Jason Heyward. The right fielder went to St. Louis in a deal that provided the Braves with Shelby Miller, a potential front-line starter, and Tyrell Jenkins, a high-upside prospect who could be in Atlanta's rotation in 2016.

Like Upton, Heyward is also set to become a free agent next year. But the return he garnered was obviously influenced by the sudden need that developed when St. Louis' projected right fielder Oscar Taveras died in an October auto accident.

Hart has not ruled out the possibility of keeping Upton and Gattis. But at the same time, he has not backed away from his commitment to help the Braves move toward their goal of being consistent contenders by the time they move into their new ballpark in 2017.

"We're looking at what is best overall for the organization in regard to any of our players," Hart said.

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