Braves shop for outfield bat as Deadline nears

Braves shop for outfield bat as Deadline nears

ATLANTA -- Since the middle of May, the Braves have seen their much-maligned offense prove to be as productive as any in the National League. But as the Trade Deadline approaches, it appears general manager Frank Wren's focus will be to add another bat.

The Braves certainly won't be bidding for Roy Oswalt or Cliff Lee, a pair of top-flight starting pitchers who will seemingly headline this year's trade market. But if the cash-strapped Dodgers decide to part ways with Matt Kemp, Wren will likely exchange a few phone calls with their general manager, Ned Colletti.

As things currently stand, the Braves certainly aren't looking to trade Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado or Arodys Vizcaino. But if a player like Kemp became available, Wren would certainly be more inclined to part ways with one of the talented young hurlers.

There are some Major League scouts who have gained a sense that the Braves might be willing to trade Yunel Escobar.

While there's no doubt that Escobar's flamboyant ways have continued to anger some members of the Braves organization, it doesn't appear that the club is too excited about parting ways with the 27-year-old shortstop, whose solid defense has compensated for the offensive inconsistencies and lack of power he has displayed this year.

Still, if the Braves were to receive a significant offer for Escobar, it appears they could at least be tempted to trade him. The Cuban shortstop will start to become more expensive when he becomes arbitration-eligible at the end of this season.

With right-hander Jair Jurrjens and outfielder Matt Diaz set to come off the disabled list within the next couple of weeks, the Braves believe their starting rotation and offense will be significantly improved before the All-Star break. But there is a growing sense that Wren needs to attempt to acquire another proven position player who could improve his outfield's offensive production, or simply solidify his bench, in order to put the club in position to make a serious postseason run.

There is plenty of uncertainty surrounding the Braves outfield mix, which could be without Nate McLouth for an extended period as he continues to deal with the concussion-like symptoms that he has experienced since colliding with Jason Heyward on June 7.

When Diaz makes his expected return in early July, he and Eric Hinske could be utilized in a platoon role in left field. This would open the door for Melky Cabrera to spend most of his time in center field, a position that was originally assigned to McLouth.

If Cabrera and Hinske continue to hit like they have over the past six weeks, this would seemingly be a productive arrangement. But instead of banking on this, the Braves may at least attempt to find an outfielder who would provide more certainty as an everyday player.

Kansas City's David DeJesus has been rumored to be on the Braves' wish list. But while the 30-year-old outfielder could play any position in the outfield and provide the kind of offensive consistency that Wren would be seeking, the Royals have made it known they want a significant return in exchange for DeJesus, whose current contract includes an economical $6.5 million option for the 2011 season.

But it appears the Braves aren't entering July with the intention of making a big splash. They will simply be looking for players who could provide more certainty than the players who currently form their outfield mix. Some of the Braves Minor League pitchers who could be available to interested clubs looking to make a minor deal include J.J. Hoover, Brett DeVall, Chris Masters, Scott Diamond and Jacob Thompson.

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