Atlanta Braves: B+

Preliminary Grade (Jan. 16): B

Key moves since preliminary grade: Acquired 2B Brandon Phillips from Reds for LHP Andrew McKirahan and RHP Carlos Portuondo; traded CF Mallex Smith and RHP Shae Simmons to Mariners for LHP Luiz Gohara and LHP Thomas Burrows; signed C Kurt Suzuki; lost C Tuffy Gosewhich via waivers

After free agent addition Sean Rodriguez was lost—possibly for the season—to a shoulder injury suffered in a late-January car accident, the Braves traded for Phillips, the longtime Reds star who had turned down a deal to Atlanta in November; they got Cincinnati to pay $13 million of Phillips' $14 million salary, restored his 12-team limited no-trade clause and gave up two minor league pitchers, neither of whom count as top prospects. Elsewhere, the Braves upgraded at backup catcher, though Suzuki has long rated as one of MLB's worst pitch-framers (-74 runs over the past six seasons, according to Baseball Prospectus), and flipped speedy flychaser Smith for a couple of live arms. Left unaddressed, however, is third base, which is still occupied by Adonis Garcia, a reminder that this team is still rebuilding.

 

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