Braves Notebook: Wieters, Dozier rumors

Grant McAuley’s Braves Notebook for 12/27…

While many teams have their eye on Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, it does not appear the Braves are among the most aggressive in vying for his services. Trade speculation has swirled around Dozier, 29, who is coming off a career-best season in which he belted 42 home runs for a last place Minnesota club which lost 103 games in 2016. With plenty of power and an affordable contract, Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball provided an update of clubs in pursuit on Monday.

While it is not surprising that Atlanta, or any club for that matter, would place a call to inquire about Dozier, it does not mean any deals have been discussed. The prospect price would likely be rather high to provide an immediate power upgrade at a position where home runs are historically scarce. He was having a normal Brian Dozier season until the second half, when he batted .291/.344/.646 with 28 homers in 72 games. That is a pace that will be next to impossible to keep up. Realistically, interested clubs will be hoping he can at least approach the overall production he has posted the last two seasons.

Under control for two more seasons at just $15 million ($6 million in 2017 and $9 million in 2018), the Twins have a bargain player they can hold on to or a chip to cash in at the July trade deadline. Second basemen with a .278 ISO (second best in MLB last season) don’t grow on trees. In fact, few players of any position possess that kind of power production to be honest. Unfortunately for Minnesota, there are quite a few run producers still out on the free agent market this off-season. That provides clubs the option of laying down the money and retaining their young talent.

There is no question that Atlanta has the pieces to make a trade happen, but this kind of trade feels like a stretch for a team that is simply not one piece away, a fact John Coppolella is cognizant of and even mentioned amidst Atlanta’s rumored pursuit of an ace starting pitcher.  Lest we forget, the last time the Braves traded for a slugging second baseman who was a bit prone to the strikeout, it did not end well. Of course, a multi-year extension ultimately became the real albatross in that case. While that is a cautionary tale, Brian Dozier is not Dan Uggla and should not be viewed or treated as such by any team exploring a trade.

The latest round of Matt Wieters rumors…

Those come courtesy of Jim Bowden over at ESPN, who reported last week that Atlanta remains interested in the longtime Orioles catcher.

Matt Wieters remains a free agent in search of his next home. Baltimore recently signed Welington Castillo and has seemingly turned the page. The eight-year veteran has won a pair of gold glove awards and earned four trips to the All-Star game, but injuries have really taken a toll on his perceived value in the eyes of some. Wieters, 30, batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs in 124 games for Baltimore last season. He has long been linked with the Braves given he played his college ball in Atlanta for Georgia Tech.

While certainly capable behind the plate, Wieters is not known for his pitch framing ability, a skill that has become increasingly popular with clubs over the past few years. Despite any and all shortcomings, however, his agent Scott Boras is known for his ability to market his clients’ services with a high degree of success. He will no doubt be seeking the best deal he can find for Wieters this winter. While a fit still appears unlikely, the Braves are likely to monitor this situation leading up to spring training:

Atlanta’s current catching situation appears to be heading into 2017 with same duo that closed out last season. Tyler Flowers enjoyed his best season offensively, while well-traveled Anthony Recker carved out a niche as a reserve in the second half. Club officials have said repeatedly that they are comfortable going into the season with Flowers and Recker as the catching tandem. Atlanta also added veteran back-up Tuffy Gosewich over the winter. While none of these are exciting names per se, it does not mean that the Braves should or would spend frivolously on Wieters to address their need. Unless the price falls into Atlanta’s proverbial comfort zone, it’s hard to imagine a union of any length with Wieters.

Grant McAuley covers the Braves and MLB for 92-9 The Game. You can subscribe to the “Around The Big Leagues” podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher. Follow Grant on Twitter.

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