Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez spent the final 45 minutes before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline chatting with Duke football coach David Cutcliffe, an old friend from their coaching days at the University of Tennessee, who stopped by the Braves’ clubhouse.
That’s about the extent of anticipation there was for a club that filled its biggest need two days earlier, acquiring left-handed reliever Scott Downs from the Angels.
The Braves still could add a backup infielder and left-handed bat for the bench in a waiver deal in August to fill a void left from the season-ending shoulder injury to Ramiro Pena. But general manager Frank Wren said the team would like to use the next several weeks to evaluate needs.
“I think there’s a good chance (of another trade), once we have a better sense, get guys healthy, get the team functioning the way we see it functioning going forward — that’s short of other injuries,” Wren said. “I think we’ll probably have some other activity, but all in all we’re pretty happy. The club is playing as well as we’ve played all year long. There’re a lot of positives.”
The Braves will continue to monitor how things play out in the starting rotation and how Brandon Beachy progresses in his return from Tommy John surgery.
When Tim Hudson went down with a season-ending ankle fracture last week, the Braves considered trading for a starter, but found the market limited in front-line starting pitchers and the asking price in prospects too high for Jake Peavy.
Those same issues stayed in play through Wednesday’s deadline.
“The asking prices were very high,” Wren said. “In most cases, you see that every year early in the process, but we didn’t see the prices really go down. We were looking for blue-light specials in the last hour, and it didn’t happen.”
The trade deadline was relatively quiet not only for the Braves, but all across the major leagues. That’s something Wren said he heard from other general managers throughout the past few days.
“I think it’s a combination of the number of teams that still feel like they’re viable for a second wild card and the number of young players that have been tied up to long-term contracts,” Wren said. “It just starts shrinking the availability of players at the deadline. I think we will see more waiver-period deals.”
For the Braves to have a clearer picture of what they’ll be looking for, they need to see how Reed Johnson progresses. He’s their most experienced pinch hitter, and he went on the disabled list Tuesday with Achilles tendinitis. The Braves don’t have a timetable for his return.
“That’s going to be one that we just have to get a feel for as he’s getting better,” Wren said. “We feel comfortable that he’ll be back, we just don’t know exactly when.”
The Braves also have Jordan Schafer (ankle) and B.J. Upton (adductor/groin) nearing returns from injuries. Upton went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his first minor league rehabilitation game Wednesday night in Triple-A Gwinnett. Schafer could begin his minor league rehabilitation assignment with Gwinnett as early as Friday or Saturday.
“As we get a little closer to the waiver deadline and the postseason deadline we’ll have a better sense of our club,” Wren said. “It’s important to know what we have and what we need, and we’re not quite there yet.”
Maholm update: Left-hander Paul Maholm played catch for the fifth time in six days Wednesday with the hope that he can throw off the mound in a light bullpen session this weekend.
He’s eligible to come off the DL on Monday, and the earliest he would return to the mound is when his rotation spot comes up again Aug. 10 against Miami. But even then, he would have been out 20 days.
“We’ll see how he throws this weekend on the side and see what he needs after that,” Gonzalez said. “My thinking is he may need (to throw) some BP or a (simulated) game, or maybe even a couple of innings in a rehab start, before we run him back out there to face live major league hitters.”
Maholm has been nursing a sprained left wrist, which he hurt batting in a July 10 start in Miami. It flared again as he threw warm-up pitches before the fourth inning of his July 20 start in Chicago.
“I’m not a very good DL patient, so I’m going to push it,” Maholm said. “But I also understand the team is playing well, and I don’t want to go out there and not be 100 percent and have a setback. So my goal is going to be to get that rotation spot the next time around, but we’ll just have to see how it goes.”