Atlanta looking to deal

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WINTER HAVEN, Fla. --- Braves general manager Frank Wren said Monday he expects to make at least one trade before Sunday's opener at Washington.

The Braves have four relief pitchers who are out of options. Wren said there is "quite a lot of interest in our players."

"There's been a lot of calls the last few days," Wren said. "I think we'll end up making a deal or two. I'm not sure of the magnitude, yet."

Perhaps the most heated competition is in the bullpen. Closer Rafael Soriano, Manny Acosta, Will Ohman and Pete Moylan are believed to be assured of spots. Jeff Bennett, who can work in long relief or as a spot starter, also seems likely to make the team.

That could leave only two spots in the bullpen. Among the relievers trying to make the team are four who are out of options: Blaine Boyer, Tyler Yates, Chris Resop and Royce Ring. Wren hopes to avoid facing the possibility of having a player claimed on waivers.

"We've taken that position for the last couple weeks," Wren said.

Wren said his priority is to keep the best fits for the Braves, instead of making a deal based on which player might have the most trade value.

"At the end of the day, we're going to keep the best guy for the Braves and trade the others," Wren said.

Boyer (2.25 ERA), Resop (1.80) and left-hander Ring (3.12) have had strong springs. Yates has a 12.00 ERA; he had a 5.18 ERA in 75 games last season.

Left-hander Mike Gonzalez, recovering from elbow surgery, will open the season on the disabled list and could join the bullpen in May or June.

Lefty Jeff Ridgway, acquired from Tampa Bay in a Jan. 17 trade, gave up six runs, including four earned, in one inning in Monday's 8-0 loss to Cleveland.

Among the most likely players to make the team as backups are infielder Martin Prado, at least one outfielder -- possibly Josh Anderson or Gregor Blanco -- and a backup catcher.

The Braves could choose to go without a pure first baseman behind starter Mark Teixeira on the bench, possibly making Scott Thorman, who also is out of options, another candidate to be traded.

Brayan Pena, Clint Sammons and Corky Miller are competing for possibly only one spot at catcher behind Brian McCann.


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