Archive for December, 2010

Braves’ meetings focus: Moving K.K., fine-tuning bench

ORLANDO – Even before baseball’s winter meetings officially began, agent Scott Boras and executives of a National League East team met with the media Sunday afternoon to announce a big free-agent signing.

It went without saying that team wasn’t the Braves.

Not so much because they are averse to signing big free agents – though the Braves don’t do it often – but because they’ve already filled their priority needs this offseason.

“It’s a very different place to be than we’ve been in the last few years,” said Braves general manager Frank Wren, who spent a big part of last year’s meetings at Indianapolis trying to trade closer Rafael Soriano after Soriano accepted the team’s arbitration offer.

Two years ago at the meetings in Las Vegas, Wren spent much of his waking hours negotiating with the agents of free-agent starting pitchers including A.J. Burnett.

At this year’s meetings at the Dolphin Resort at Disneyworld, it could be the Happiest Place on Earth for Braves officials …

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Braves trade for White Sox reliever Linebrink

The Braves kept wheeling and dealing on Friday, getting veteran reliever Scott Linebrink from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for minor league pitcher Kyle Cofield.

The White Sox will also send the Braves $3.5 million to offset Linebrink’s $5.5 million salary for the final season of the right-hander’s four-year, $19 million contract. He’ll cost the Braves only $2 million for 2011.

Although the 34-year-old setup man isn’t the dominant pitcher he was several years ago with San Diego, Linebrink was 3-2 with a 4.40 ERA in 52 appearances in 2010, and had 52 strikeouts with only 17 walks in 57-1/3 innings.

“His stuff is still good,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “He’s healthy, he’s solid, and he has [mental] makeup that’s off the charts. He had the kind of pedigree we were looking for in that role.

“We wanted a guy with some veteran leadership and a guy comfortable pitching in the last innings of a game, whether it’s the seventh, eighth or ninth.”

The move came a day …

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Braves re-sign free agent Hinske, cut ties with Diaz

Free agent Eric Hinske is staying with the Braves, but arbitration-eligible left fielder Matt Diaz is not.

Hinske signed a one-year, $1.45 million deal on Thursday that includes a $1.5  club option for 2012 and a $100,000 buyout. The veteran outfielder-first baseman turned down an offer from the Milwaukee Brewers in his home state of Wisconsin.

“I’m happy,” said Hinske, who hit .256 with 11 homers and 51 RBIs in 281 at-bats in 2010, including .298 with three homers as a pinch-hitter.  “Milwaukee made a big push. I think it kind of boiled down to, they weren’t willing to give me a two-year deal. Neither was Atlanta, but if neither was going to,  my heart was in Atlanta.

“I had so much fun there last year, and I think what they’re doing this offseason, bringing in [second baseman Dan] Uggla, and if Chipper [Jones] stays healthy I think we’ve got a real good shot next year.”

As expected, the Braves didn’t offer a contract to Diaz, who made $2.55 million …

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