Top 5 Moves By GM Frank Wren That Led Atlanta Braves to 2013 NL East Title
Frank Wren Brings Division Championship to Atlanta With Five Solid Moves
The path to a division championship often starts immediately after the last out is recorded in the final game of the season. For Atlanta Braves GM Frank Wren, the groundwork for the 2013 NL East title began just as the offseason got underway last fall. After the inaugural NL Wild Card game in 2012 resulted in what many considered to be a premature exit from the playoffs, the front office quickly started the retooling process. With the new system in place, claiming the top spot in the division is now of the utmost importance. Wren and company completely understand that fact, which led them to shoring up the roster in any way they possibly could.
The five transactions that will be mentioned cover a time frame stretching from Nov. 1, 2012 through the start of the 2013 regular season. In fact, the latest of these moves came 10 days after opening day. Wren’s work included building the depth of the bullpen, stocking the bench with useful talent and bringing in a potential lineup cornerstone to ease the effects of losing franchise legend Chipper Jones. Sometimes even a player that is deemed a “throw-in” can burst onto the scene and become an integral part of a team. The time has come to take a look at the most important acquisitions that the Braves' front office completed that led to the club’s first division crown in eight years. Hopefully, B.J. Upton can regain the form shown in previous seasons and join this list next year.
5. Trade for Luis Ayala
Not quite two weeks into the regular season, Wren added depth to an already-talented bullpen with the acquisition of reliever Luis Ayala from the Baltimore Orioles. The veteran only cost the Braves minor league southpaw Chris Jones. This turned out to be a steal as Ayala recorded 10 holds while posting a solid 2.90 ERA in 37 appearances.
4. Tommy Hanson Out, Jordan Walden In
After four seasons of mostly solid work, Tommy Hanson had become an injury concern to the Braves. Already having an abundance of starting pitching options, Wren dealt the once very promising prospect to the Angels for hard-throwing setup man Jordan Walden. This trade went down on Nov. 30, 2012, shortly before the Winter Meetings. Walden put together a solid year that included 14 holds, a 3.45 ERA and an impressive 10.7 K/9.
3. Claimed David Carpenter Off Waivers
Also happening on Nov. 30, Wren picked up reliever David Carpenter off waivers from the Boston Red Sox in a move that brought very little publicity. All Carpenter did was post a 1.78 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and strike out 74 batters in 65.2 innings.
2. Acquired a Familiar Face, Jordan Schafer
Wren brought back a once prized piece of the organization on Nov. 1, 2012. Jordan Schafer was released after spending one and a half seasons with the Houston Astros. As the Braves' bench was in dire need of speed and defense, Schafer seemed like an obvious answer. The speedy outfielder provided solid defense at all three spots and led the team with 22 stolen bases.
1. Blockbuster Deal for Justin Upton & Chris Johnson
Most fans around Atlanta were very sad to see the departure of all-star Martin Prado on Jan. 24, 2013. The versatile Venezuelan had turned into an absolute fan favorite with his consistent production over a five-year stretch as a regular piece of the lineup. However, the addition of Justin Upton and Chris Johnson put the team over the top. No one will soon forget Prado, but Upton and Johnson are now vital parts of a loaded roster. The two combined for 39 homers, 138 RBIs and 148 runs scored this season. Wren knocked one out of the park with this trade.