Another year, another batch of disappointment at the end for Atlanta. The Braves led the NL East nearly wire to wire, overcoming the heavily-favored Washington Nationals to win their first division title since 2005. But the club faltered in the Postseason, losing to the Dodgers in four games in the NLDS and ending their season early once again.
In the spring, the Braves set themselves up for a three year window after acquiring Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks. The timeframe on that window is now down to two years, but the team is still in good shape. They return every offensive starter from 2014 with the exception of catcher Brian McCann, and the club is probably going to keep the catcher job internal. The team loses starting pitchers Paul Maholm and Tim Hudson from the rotation, but once again, they're expected to keep those positions internal. So really, where does that leave Atlanta? They could use a second baseman, assuming Dan Uggla is traded, but once again – that's probably going to be an internal thing. A starting pitcher and maybe a veteran reliever is all the Braves are really going to be in the hunt for this winter, and I doubt they really get too deep into those discussions.
A return for Hudson seems unlikely, considering the Boston Red Sox have gotten in the bidding for his services along with numerous other teams. Maholm also doesn't look like he'll be back after his second half struggles led to him being left off of the NLDS roster. Atlanta won't be looking at a top-tier starting pitcher like Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ricky Nolasco, or Ervin Santana, but I could see the club looking at someone like perhaps a Chris Capuano or Roberto Hernandez type. I also doubt that Atlanta gets too involved in the free agent market for relievers, but they'll need to replace lefties Scott Downs and Eric O'Flaherty with another southpaw. If neither player returns, maybe the Braves will sniff around someone like Oliver Perez, last of the Mariners.
Dan Uggla is more than likely getting dealt, and the Braves will more than likely be swallowing a large part of his contract. The Braves would also be wise to dangle Chris Johnson, Craig Kimbrel, and Kris Medlen, just to gage the market and see if any team would back up the Brinks trunk for any of the trio. But the team doesn't *need* to trade any of those three players, and if they want to contend in 2014 and 2015, keeping them around would probably be the best course of action.
A possible Uggla for Brandon Phillips swap was discussed, but didn't get very far. I honestly don't know what players the Braves might be sniffing around, but I doubt that a guy like David Price will be on their radar. If they can clear some payroll, someone like Kyle Lohse or Yovani Gallardo may be a solid fit. This is a club that doesn't *need* to do much – they're not the White Sox with an immediate need to rebuild or the Yankees with some gaping holes and money to burn in their pockets. Any moves the Braves make will likely be smaller in nature than last winter, when they brought in both Upton brothers, Johnson, and Jordan Walden.