MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Watch HOF announcement coverage live, 5 ET today

Watch HOF announcement coverage live, 5 ET today

NEW YORK -- Today is the big day. The National Baseball Hall of Fame announces its Class of 2017, selected in a vote last month by the eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

As many as five candidates -- and possibly six -- could be elected according to the public ballots amassed online, with Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell looking all but certain, plus Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman hovering around the 75-percent threshold. Even Edgar Martinez has made huge gains from last year and is within reach of election.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ex-Braves believe McGriff should be in Hall

Smoltz, Cox feel respected, consistent slugger hasn't gotten his due

Ex-Braves believe McGriff should be in Hall

ATLANTA -- As Fred McGriff earned six consecutive Top 10 finishes in National League MVP Award balloting from 1989-94, he hit 14 more home runs than any other Major Leaguer and produced an fWAR that was better than everybody not named Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, Ken Griffey Jr. or Cal Ripken Jr.

Six seasons of success do not equate to a Hall of Fame career, but these six specific seasons provide a glimpse of lofty perch upon which McGriff stood before his Cooperstown candidacy was influenced by the inflated numbers produced by Bonds and others during a time before baseball instituted testing for illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Allard, Newcomb make MLB Pipeline's Top 10 LHP Prospects list

Hader leaps from No. 6 to top of list, Groome slides into No. 2 spot

Allard, Newcomb make MLB Pipeline's Top 10 LHP Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com will unveil its 2017 Top 100 Prospects list on Saturday, Jan. 28, with a one-hour show on MLB Network at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

Exactly half of last year's Top 10 left-handed pitching prospects list graduated off of prospect lists during the 2016 season. The top three -- Julio Urias, Blake Snell and Steven Matz -- all had large impacts, with Urias even pitching in the postseason. Four of the other five are still on the list, including new No. 1 Josh Hader.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boyer reunites with Braves on Minors deal

Boyer reunites with Braves on Minors deal

ATLANTA -- Nearly four years after coming out of retirement to resurrect his career in an impressive manner, Blaine Boyer is looking forward to the opportunity to reunite with the Braves and pitch just a few miles from his childhood home.

Though there was still a chance he might have gained guaranteed money on a Major League deal that another club might have eventually offered, Boyer jumped at the chance to sign a Minor League deal with the Braves on Tuesday night. The 35-year-old right-hander will go to Spring Training with a legitimate shot of earning an Opening Day spot in Atlanta's bullpen.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Outfield continuity bodes well for Braves

Outfield continuity bodes well for Braves

ATLANTA -- The Braves used 14 different starting outfielders over the course of the 267 games that were played from the start of the 2015 season through Aug. 1 of this past season. Their only players to make at least 75 starts as an outfielder within this span were Nick Markakis (249) and Cameron Maybin (126), who spent the entirety of the '16 season on the Tigers' roster.

While Markakis provided stability in right field and both Maybin and Ender Inciarte did their part to create some consistency in center field, the Braves used 12 different starting left fielders within the span that preceded the arrival of Matt Kemp, who made his Atlanta debut on Aug. 2 before serving as the starting left fielder during 54 of the Braves' remaining 56 games.

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

Braves eye new Spring Training complex in North Port

Club in negotiations with Sarasota County for relocation in 2019

ATLANTA -- The Braves could be on the verge of making firm plans to relocate their Spring Training site to Florida's Sarasota County in 2019.

The Braves revealed they have entered exclusive negotiations with Sarasota County and its West Village partners regarding the construction of a Spring Training complex within the city of North Port. A decision could be made as soon as Jan. 24, when the county's commissioners are expected to vote on the proposed deal.

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

Healthy Fried ready to carry momentum into '17

Healthy Fried ready to carry momentum into '17

ATLANTA -- A little more than two years removed from Tommy John surgery, Max Fried feels he is once again physically capable of proving why he entered the 2012 Draft as one of the top available left-handed pitchers and exited the '13 season ranked as MLBPipeline's 43rd-best overall prospect.

Fried reinvigorated his prospect status with the strong second half he produced for Class A Rome last season, and he will come to his first big league camp next month with the realization that he could soon become a key figure within Atlanta's rotation. The 22-year-old southpaw spoke about his recent progress as he attended MLB's Rookie Career Development Program in Leesburg, Va., last week.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves avoid arbitration with Vizcaino, Krol

Braves avoid arbitration with Vizcaino, Krol

ATLANTA -- The Braves avoided this year's salary arbitration hearing process when they reached agreements with right-handed reliever Arodys Vizcaino and left-handed reliever Ian Krol just before Friday afternoon's deadline.

Vizcaino agreed to a one-year, $1.55 million deal and Krol agreed to a one-year, $900,000 deal. The Braves have now signed each of their arbitration-eligible players.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Albies named Pipeline's top defender at second

Padres' Margot garners most votes for best defensive prospect

Albies named Pipeline's top defender at second

These days, there may be more value placed on defense and certainly more time spent on evaluating and quantifying it than ever before. When MLBPipeline.com surveyed front-office officials as to which prospects stood out most for their glovework, there was no shortage of candidates.

In fact, there were so many talented defenders that among the 18 votes we received, no player garnered more than Padres outfielder Manuel Margot's three and a half. Thirteen players received at least a half a vote -- we allowed executives to split their picks -- and another five were brought up as worthy of discussion.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves acquire versatile Johnson from Dodgers

Braves acquire versatile Johnson from Dodgers

ATLANTA -- Looking to fill some of the organizational depth lost when they traded Mallex Smith on Wednesday, the Braves acquired Micah Johnson from the Dodgers on Friday in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

The Dodgers had designated Johnson for assignment on Tuesday to create a roster spot for Kenley Jansen. Atlanta now has 39 players on its 40-man roster.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Peterson among Braves' 2017 bench options

Peterson among Braves' 2017 bench options

ATLANTA -- Given there was a possibility that Mallex Smith may have spent a majority of the 2017 season with Triple-A Gwinnett, the Braves didn't immediately alter their Opening Day roster plans on Wednesday afternoon when they traded Smith to the Mariners, who then promptly flipped the outfielder to the Rays.

With Smith no longer available as an insurance option if center fielder Ender Inciarte is sidelined for an extended period, the Braves have something else to think about as they fill the final spots on their bench.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Prospect Development Pipeline makes first stop in Atlanta

Collaboration between MLB and USA Baseball provides exposure for top high school players

Prospect Development Pipeline makes first stop in Atlanta

ATLANTA -- In an effort to eliminate the financial and travel burdens that might have prohibited some top high school prospects from gaining deserved exposure and instruction, Major League Baseball and USA Baseball have jointly created the Prospect Development Pipeline, an initiative that will begin Saturday morning with a workout in suburban Atlanta.

A select group of the Southeast's top high school-aged prospects have been invited to participate in this workout, which will be staged at Coolray Field, home of the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves. This will serve as the first of 17 PDP Premier events scheduled throughout the country this year.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves unveil plans for Hank Aaron Terrace

Legendary slugger will also be honored with new bronze statue at SunTrust Park

Braves unveil plans for Hank Aaron Terrace

ATLANTA -- When fans make their first visit to SunTrust Park this year, they will have the opportunity to see the various ways the Braves have attempted to preserve Hank Aaron's legacy and historical accomplishments via tributes constructed throughout their new ballpark.

The Braves provided some updated plans on Thursday, when they revealed that along with placing a bronze statue of Aaron outside the stadium, they will also offer fans a chance to visit the Hank Aaron Terrace, an area that will celebrate the iconic Hall of Famer's historic 715th home run.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves will have 7 spring games air on TV

Braves will have 7 spring games air on TV

ATLANTA -- FOX Sports South and FOX Sports Southeast will carry seven of Braves' Spring Training games this year, including an exhibition contest against the Yankees on March 31, which will serve as the first game played at SunTrust Park.

Games scheduled to be broadcast on FOX Sports Southeast are as follows: March 11 at Cardinals (1 p.m. ET), March 19 vs. Cardinals (1 p.m.), March 23 vs. Tigers (6 p.m.), March 25 vs. Mets (1 p.m.) and March 27 vs. Tigers (6 p.m.).

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves deal Smith, Simmons for 2 lefty prospects

Rated highly in Mariners' system, Gohara, Burrows bring talent, upside in return

Braves deal Smith, Simmons for 2 lefty prospects

ATLANTA -- Instead of waiting to see if Mallex Smith's raw talents would develop to the point where he would factor into their everyday lineup plans, the Braves used the high-energy, fleet-footed outfielder to further enrich their farm system with the addition of two more high-upside pitchers.

Smith's tenure with the Braves concluded on Wednesday afternoon, when he and right-handed reliever Shae Simmons were traded to the Mariners in exchange for left-handed pitching prospects Luiz Gohara and Thomas Burrows. This was Atlanta's latest attempt to clear what it viewed as excess on its 40-man roster in order to brighten the club's future.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jon Paul Morosi

Freeman plans to honor mom, play for Canada

Both parents were born in Ontario; Braves slugger's mother passed away in 2000

Freeman plans to honor mom, play for Canada

Freddie Freeman was born and raised in Orange County, Calif. He's spent his entire Major League career with the Atlanta Braves and he resides in Georgia. But when the World Baseball Classic commences in a little less than two months, he's likely to be in a Team Canada uniform.

And there's a very poignant reason for that.

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Jon Paul Morosi is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves' rotation revamp may not be complete

Braves' rotation revamp may not be complete

ATLANTA -- Braves general manager John Coppolella couldn't quite make his end-of-the-year wish come true -- to acquire Chris Archer as a Christmas present. But that doesn't mean he won't continue weighing the possibility of trading for either Archer or Jose Quintana before the upcoming season begins.

The Braves have already significantly altered their rotation, and they are not comfortable with the Rays' current asking price for Archer or what the White Sox are seeking for Quintana. So it might be easy to assume neither of these pitchers will be in Atlanta's rotation at the start of the season. But in order to do so, you must also ignore the reality that it has never been wise to make assumptions about what the always aggressive Coppolella might do.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Spring is in the air: First workout dates announced

Spring is in the air: First workout dates announced

Despite the frigid temperatures throughout many big league cities, Major League Baseball's announcement Tuesday of the first workout dates of Spring Training should be enough to warm the hearts of baseball fans everywhere.

The following are the first Spring Training workout dates, subject to change, both for pitchers and catchers and full squads of the 30 Major League clubs. 

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Inciarte's game-saving grab among '17 bobbleheads

Inciarte's game-saving grab among '17 bobbleheads

ATLANTA -- One of Ender Inciarte's highlight catches and Dansby Swanson's hair style will be the focus of two of the five bobblehead giveaways the Braves will provide the first 20,000 fans who attend select Friday home games during the upcoming season.

Inciarte, Swanson, Freddie Freeman, Bartolo Colon and Matt Kemp will be the five Braves players featured within this coming season's bobblehead collection.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Do Braves have potential ace among prospects?

Beat reporter Mark Bowman answers fans' questions

Inbox: Do Braves have potential ace among prospects?

For all the attention given to trading for high-upside pitching prospects, I don't see a Braves prospect who could become a true ace. Do you agree?
-- Tyler F., Buffalo, N.Y.

With prospects Kolby Allard, Ian Anderson, Mike Soroka, Joey Wentz and Touki Toussaint all at least a couple of years away from making it to Atlanta, there are certainly more potential future aces in the lower levels of the Braves' system. That belief is a product of their projected ceilings and the reality that they have not yet gone through the "weeding" levels that have altered thoughts on pitchers such as Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: Phillips blocked trade from Reds to Braves

Second baseman invoked 10-and-5 rights to remain in Cincinnati

Source: Phillips blocked trade from Reds to Braves

CINCINNATI -- The Reds have been trying to move Brandon Phillips and have found takers for their longtime second baseman in each of the past two offseasons. But Phillips has again invoked his no-trade privileges.

A source confirmed to MLB.com that Phillips blocked a potential trade from the Reds to the Braves in November, as first reported Thursday by MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.

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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Billy Joel to perform at SunTrust Park on April 28

Presale begins at 10 a.m. ET Monday; general public at 10 a.m Jan. 13

Billy Joel to perform at SunTrust Park on April 28

ATLANTA -- Sticking with their commitment to make SunTrust Park and its many adjoining entertainment options an all-inclusive year-round destination spot that extends beyond baseball, the Braves proudly revealed that Billy Joel will perform the first concert staged within the new stadium.

Joel will bring his world-renowned show to SunTrust Park on April 28, when the Braves begin a three-game series in Milwaukee. The six-time GRAMMY Award winner and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member will be making his first solo appearance in Atlanta since 2015.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Garcia handling hot corner, but for how long?

Ruiz may also see time at third for Braves while prospect Riley develops

Garcia handling hot corner, but for how long?

ATLANTA -- After objecting to learning how to play left field while at the big league level, Adonis Garcia was sent to Triple-A Gwinnett to play the position on a consistent basis. He returned to the Majors approximately one month later and surprisingly proved to be serviceable enough at third base for the Braves to view him as a bridge to their future.

Rio Ruiz is knocking at the door and Austin Riley -- the Braves' No. 14 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com -- will spend the next couple of years attempting to prove he will be agile enough to remain a third baseman. But as these two prospects continue to develop, it appears Garcia will continue to serve as Atlanta's primary player at the hot corner -- a position where he was once on pace to produce historically poor defensive metrics.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Analysis of deal shows Freddie's no freeloader

Slugger's production since signing club-record contract compares favorably with top-paid players

Analysis of deal shows Freddie's no freeloader

ATLANTA -- Before the start of the 2014 season, the Braves essentially chose their franchise cornerstone by buying out Jason Heyward's final two arbitration-eligible seasons and providing Freddie Freeman a franchise-record eight-year, $135 million contract.

Yeah, there were rumblings about the possibility of trading Freeman after his frustrating, injury-plagued 2015 season. But once the 27-year-old first baseman overcame concerns about his right wrist and re-established himself as one of the game's elite performers this past season, the Braves gained comfort with the commitment that will net Freeman $106.5 million over the next five seasons.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Execs and GMs tab Swanson as one of game's best prospects

In survey, Benintendi edges Moncada, Reyes runs away with top-hurler tag

Execs and GMs tab Swanson as one of game's best prospects

A year ago, MLBPipeline.com introduced the Pipeline Poll, where general managers and scouting executives were asked to choose the game's top prospects. In that edition, Corey Seager was the clear-cut winner as the overwhelming choice for top overall prospect, and that seemed to work out pretty well.

The 22-year-old was an All-Star, won the National League Rookie of the Year Award, finished third in the NL Most Valuable Player Award voting and set a slew of franchise records, including most homers, hits, doubles and total bases by a Dodgers rookie shortstop.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Veteran additions have Braves pointed up in '17

Veteran additions have Braves pointed up in '17

ATLANTA -- Encouraged by September's success and the offseason alterations made to a now much more seasoned starting rotation, the Braves are approaching 2017 with a sense of confidence that did not exist after entering the past two seasons prepared to deal with the painful portion of a massive rebuild.

Nobody is predicting SunTrust Park will host World Series games during its inaugural season, but the much-improved Braves can at least enter the upcoming campaign with legitimate hope to produce a winning record and further distance themselves from the frustration felt the past two years.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baseball was Meyer's first love

Ohio State football coach was Braves Minor Leaguer from '82-83

Baseball was Meyer's first love

Mark Lemke was 17 years old, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound infielder from upstate New York embarking on a career in professional baseball that he had no idea would one day take him to World Series glory.

Lemke was surrounded by talent: future Braves do-everything outfielder Ron Gant, all of 18 years old himself, at a nearby locker. Sturdy future reliever Paul Assenmacher, a team statesman at 22, getting his daily work in. And in another corner of the clubhouse, one of the most athletic and promising members of the 1983 rookie-level Atlanta Braves: a tall, rangy 18-year-old shortstop named Urban Meyer.

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Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Late surges reinvigorate Braves' 2016 season

Freeman, Kemp, Swanson help snap skid in final year at Turner Field

Late surges reinvigorate Braves' 2016 season

ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman proved why he is the franchise's cornerstone and Dansby Swanson provided a glimpse into the future as the Braves' rebuilding process seemed to fade in the distance in 2016. When Turner Field's 20-season history concluded with a 1-0 win over the Tigers on Oct. 2, the Braves exited the season having won 20 of their final 30 games, including 12 of their final 14.

This strong finish enhanced hope for the future, influenced the removal of the "interim" tag from Brian Snitker's managerial title on Oct. 11 and avoided what had seemed destined to be a 100-loss season.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.