Wren becomes acquainted with Japan

Wren visits with Japanese League

ATLANTA -- When Braves general manager Frank Wren says he'll look far and wide to fill his glaring roster needs, he's certainly not just providing a marketing pitch. In fact, he's already started the process.

Wren and one of Atlanta's top scouts, Chuck McMichael, traveled to Japan last week to evaluate some players and more importantly, to get a feel for the Japanese League.

"It was a very productive trip," Wren said. "It's one of those things that may not pay dividends immediately. But down the road, I think it will."

With Hideki Matsui having been removed from the picture many years ago, Japan isn't the place that Wren was going to find the power-hitting outfielder that he's seeking. Nor is the next Daisuke Matsuzaka going to be available this winter.

With the available talent level seemingly down in comparison to past years, Wren likely won't fill any of his multiple pitching needs with a Japanese pitcher. But because he made this trip, there's certainly a better chance that the Braves will show more interest in Japanese players than they have in the past.

"Japan was great," Wren said. "It was a trip for me to get familiar with Japanese baseball firsthand, so that I'll have a better understanding of what my scouts are talking about when they provide reports on those players."

While the Braves haven't been players to sign Japanese free agents, two years ago they entered into a working agreement with the Hanshin Tigers. With this agreement, the two clubs regularly exchange scouting information about players from their respective countries.

Earlier this season, the Braves sold right-handed reliever Chris Resop to the Hanshin team. Wren estimates his club has sold at least one player like Resop to a Japanese team for each of the past eight years.

With the experiences he gained while talking to multiple clubs last week, Wren will have a better understanding of the reports he receives from the Hanshin club and his scouts, Phil Dale and Hiroyuki Oya, who cover the Japanese League for the Braves.

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