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Braves gauging interest in Jurrjens, Prado

Braves gauging interest in Jurrjens, Prado

Braves gauging interest in Jurrjens, Prado
ATLANTA -- Now that the Braves have moved Derek Lowe, they could create more financial flexibility by trading Jair Jurrjens or Martin Prado.

According to a Major League source, the Braves have already approached some teams about the possibility of trading Jurrjens or Prado. Both players could see their respective salaries rise from the $3 million range to the $5 million range through arbitration this offseason.

The Braves saved $5 million when they traded Lowe to the Indians earlier this week. By trading Jurrjens and/or Prado, they would gain the additional funds necessary to expand their options as they attempt to upgrade their lineup. There is a need to sign a shortstop and a desire to add some more power to the outfield mix.

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The Royals are among the teams the Braves have approached about Jurrjens. The Braves are interested in a number of Kansas City's highly regarded young prospects, including outfielder Wil Myers, who has spent the past few weeks impressing in the Arizona Fall League.

Along with Myers, the Braves have also talked to the Royals about center fielder Lorenzo Cain. With Michael Bourn's contract set to expire at the end of the 2012 season, the Braves will spend time this winter looking to acquire his potential replacement.

While Jurrjens and Prado will draw interest from a number of teams, there are health-related questions surrounding both of them.

At the same time, there is reason to question whether Atlanta is in position to trade either of them. With uncertainty surrounding Tommy Hanson's shoulder, can the Braves remove Jurrjens from a rotation that is already projected to include at least two pitchers with less than two full seasons of experience?

By trading Prado, the Braves would lose the comfort he provides via his ability to confidently handle third base when Chipper Jones needs a break. In other words, this would at least create the need to find a reliable backup third baseman for the upcoming season.

Jurrjens was progressing toward a memorable season when he entered the All-Star break leading the National League with a 1.87 ERA. But a bone bruise in his troublesome right knee led him to post a 5.88 ERA in his seven starts after the break.

Jurrjens missed the final two weeks of the 2010 season and the postseason because of a torn meniscus in his right knee. The 25-year-old pitcher believes this year's discomfort was a product of his inability to fully re-strengthen his leg after having the torn meniscus repaired via arthroscopic surgery last October.

While there is certainly reason for clubs to be concerned about Jurrjens' knee, he did ease some of those concerns when he threw five pain-free innings in an instructional league game on Sept. 29. The outing was completed with the aid of a knee brace he plans to wear next year.

Prado was one of the Braves' most valuable players when he hit .307 with 15 home runs and a .809 OPS in 2010. But one year after earning his first NL All-Star selection, the versatile 28-year-old Venezuelan hit a career-low .260 with 13 home runs and a .687 OPS.

Some of Prado's struggles this year could have been a product of fatigue. He began aggressive workouts in January as he attempted to learn left field and return from injuries (torn oblique muscle and hip pointer) suffered during the final week of the 2010 season.

Prado then suffered another big blow in June, when he developed a staph infection that sidelined him for more than a month. He batted just .244 in his 68 games after the All-Star break.

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

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