The Atlanta Braves are focusing on adding a left-handed reliever before the trade deadline, according to a report from Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Bowman notes that the team's wish list includes Mike Gonzalez (Brewers), James Russell (Cubs), and, to a lesser extent, Wesley Wright (Astros).
While the possibility of the Cubs dealing Russell has long been considered unlikely, Gonzalez has said that he believes he will be traded before the deadline, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
The 35-year old spent three seasons (2007-2009) in Atlanta, and primarily served as the team's closer during that time.
The Brewers are known to be shopping him along with right-handed relievers Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford, and the Dodgers, Red Sox, Orioles, Tigers and Diamondbacks are among the teams who have scouted the trio.
The Braves recently were turned away after inquiring about Twins' closer Glen Perkins, according to ESPN.com's Jim Bowden. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported recently that Atlanta has also shown interest in Mariners' lefty Oliver Perez, although Seattle is known throughout the league as a "hesitant seller". Before the White Sox shipped Matt Thornton to the Red Sox, the Braves were among the teams pursuing him, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
Other lefties who could be made available in trades include Javier Lopez (Giants), Michael Dunn (Marlins), and Charlie Furbush (Mariners). Another option for the Braves could be Red Sox' reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith, who has been excellent on the season with Triple-A Pawtucket but has not been rewarded with a promotion. According to a source, Rowland-Smith has an August 5th opt-out date in his minor league deal with Boston.
Although they are now focused on left-handed help, the Braves have previously been linked to available right-handed relievers like Joba Chamberlain of the Yankees and Kevin Gregg of the Cubs. It is almost certain that they will add one or two relievers before the July 31st deadline.
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