MLB Rumors: Lester or Shields a Contingency Plan for the Atlanta Braves?

As it goes so often during this time of year, the best laid plans…or trades…many times go awry.  Such was the case with the once thought rock-solid deal between the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs for right-handed starting pitcher Ryan Dempster.

So now that Braves general manager Frank Wren has basically waved the white flag on the Dempster deal, does Atlanta have a contingency plan to help their ailing starting rotation?  The answer is a definite yes, but what exactly that plan is has yet to be revealed.

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says the Boston Red Sox Jon Lester and Tampa Bay Rays James Shields are two possibilities.  However, reports that the Braves had been making moves towards Minnesota Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano and the Cubs’ Matt Garza are now being refuted by the team.

My personal feeling is that the Braves aren’t going to make a starting pitching “big splash” trade at all.  But that’s not to say there wont be some changes.

With the contract option years for both catcher Brian McCann and pitcher Tim Hudson coming up next year, as well as having to see if there is money in the coffers to retain center fielder Michael Bourn, Atlanta’s primary goals during the rest of this season will most likely boil down to moves and deals that make the most fiscal sense.  With the deal for Dempster falling through, Wren’s focus may turn to Atlanta’s bullpen.

Relief pitchers come a lot cheaper than top-line starters, and Atlanta’s bullpen certainly could use a little boost.  If the Braves move middle-reliever Kris Medlen into the starting rotation, and then go and trade for a couple of sturdy arms to go in the bullpen, they’ll most likely end up adding the same number of wins to the rotation, provide some relief to some tired relievers, and will save precious dollars.

Tbe Braves have scouted Milwaukee Brewers ace Zack Greinke and may make an effort to sign him as a free agent this winter -no matter where he is traded – if they aren’t able to keep Bourn in Atlanta, but it’s doubtful that Greinke is going to be targeted for a trade deadline deal by the Braves.

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