On Monday, the Nationals will face the revamped Braves for the third time this spring and first time at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla. The Braves had an active, attention-grabbing winter, signing B.J. Upton to the team’s largest-ever free agent contract; trading for his brother Justin Upton, as well as Chris Johnson and Jordan Walden; and adding Gerald Laird, among others.
The Braves were already a young team expected to be among the top teams in the National League and, with their additions, they remained one. But in doing so, they changed their team’s composition. They went from being a left-handed heavy lineup to a more balanced one with the right-handed Uptons. They traded defense, Martin Prado and Michael Bourn, for home runs and strikeouts, the Upton brothers.
This begs an obvious question: how much of the Braves offseason moves were to match up with their main opponents, such as the Nationals, or to build the best team possible in their eyes? Atlanta General Manager Frank Wren, your thoughts?
“There’s a balance,” he said. “I think from our standpoint it was, we were in a transition phase with Chipper [Jones] retiring. So we had to kind of re-establish a new identity for our ballclub, irrespective of what Washington was doing. We had to re-establish our identity and that was something we had talked about a lot going into the offseason and knowing that Chipper was retiring and so that was one function.
“And the other thing, and it was not just because of the great year Washington had last year, but just in general, we had become a little left-handed dominant. So we needed more balance in our lineup. And so, we were kinda able to put all of that together and re-make ourselves a little bit.”