Braves not relenting in search for elite starter
Greinke off table, but Wren evaluating options before Tuesday's Deadline
ATLANTA -- Fans are not the only ones excited about who might be involved in trades over the next few days. When Braves general manager Frank Wren got on the team bus before Wednesday afternoon's game against the Marlins, Chipper Jones greeted him by saying "Josh Johnson" multiple times while coughing.
It seems unlikely that the Marlins would trade Johnson to any National League East club for anything less than a king's ransom in return. But contrary to some speculation on Friday, the Braves remain focused on attempting to find a top-flight starting pitcher before Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.
While Wren and his staff spend the next few days evaluating their options, they will explore the possibility of improving their bench and bullpen. But they have not lost sight of the possibility of acquiring a starting pitcher.
Though Zack Greinke stood at the front of the Braves' wish list for more than a month, there were concerns about how much it might cost to acquire him while risking the possibility that he could bolt as a free agent this winter.
Those concerns were erased early Friday evening, when the Angels acquired Greinke from the Brewers.
"Frank and I talk all the time and keep in touch all the time about stuff," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You can't help it this time of year when you watch MLB Network to notice a rumor out there or a tweet. But I'm to the point where whoever gets here, gets here."
Since blocking a trade that would have sent him to Atlanta earlier this week, Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster has not ruled out the possibility of eventually agreeing to join the Braves. His desire remains for Chicago to trade him to the Dodgers. But these two teams have had trouble reaching an agreement when discussing potential deals over the past couple of weeks.
The Braves have expressed interest in the Padres' Edinson Volquez and the Rays' James Shields. As with Johnson, it will be interesting to see if the Padres and Rays start asking for less in return as Tuesday's Deadline approaches.
The Rays are looking to acquire young pitchers, and the Braves might be able to satisfy their wish with Randall Delgado and some of their other respected pitching prospects. But instead of Shields, who has a $9 million option for the 2013 season and a $12 million option for 2014, the Braves might be more interested in Wade Davis.
Though Davis has not started this year, the 26-year-old right-hander has made 64 Major League starts in his young career and is much cheaper than Shields. Davis will be owed $2.8 million in 2013 and $4.8 million in 2014. He will then have a $7 million option, $8 million option and $10 million option for each of the three subsequent seasons.
While Jones would certainly like to spend the final months of his career with Johnson, he said he understood the Marlins would likely not trade him to Atlanta without asking for a return as significant as the one the Rangers received when they traded Mark Teixeira to the Braves in 2007.
To get Teixeira, the Braves traded Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Beau Jones. Andrus, Feliz and Harrison have all earned All-Star selections, and Saltalamacchia has combined for 35 homers while serving as the Red Sox starting catcher since the start of the 2011 season.
"As long as Josh is locked up, they're going to need to get an outlandish return, and I think we've all learned our lesson about that," Jones said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.