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Braves still searching for leadoff-hitting left fielder

The SportsXchange

The trade of Tommy Hanson to the Los Angeles Angels provided extra payroll flexibility, but the Atlanta Braves departed the winter meetings still without their missing piece for 2013.

Atlanta general manager Frank Wren's goal is to find a left fielder who can lead off. So far, he has come up empty.

The Braves had no interest in going as high as the three-year, $39 million deal that free agent Shane Victorino got from the Boston Red Sox. That left Wren concentrating fully on trade options, but he left Nashville without being able to make a match.

The Braves have interest in Emilio Bonafacio, who this fall was part of the Miami-Toronto blockbuster trade. The Blue Jays, though, seemed reluctant to deal the speedy and versatile veteran.

Earlier, the Braves had talked to Minnesota about Denard Span. However, the Twins dealt him to the Washington Nationals, the National League East champs.

Then the Braves inquired about the Twins' Ben Revere, but Minnesota traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies, another NL East rival.

Following the deal that sent Hanson to Anaheim for reliever Jordan Walden prior to the winter meetings, the Braves' main trade bait is either Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran.

Wren has made it clear that he isn't willing to trade shortstop Andrelton Simmons, but he has indicated Delgado or Teheran could be available in the right deal.

The Hanson-Walden trade caught some by surprise. Wren insisted it wasn't a payroll move, although the Braves saved about $3 million by trading Hanson, who is expected to receive a 2013 salary of about $4 million in his first year of arbitration.

Wren said the move was made to open a rotation spot for Delgado or Teheran and add another piece to an already solid bullpen.

The hard-throwing Walden, 25, saved 32 games for the Angels in 2011 as a rookie and was named to the AL All-Star team. The right-hander lost his closer's role and had injury issues last season, however.

Hanson, 26, was once considered a cornerstone of the Atlanta rotation. He has had back and shoulder problems, though, and his velocity dropped amid concerns about his mechanics.

After placing third in the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year voting, Hanson's ERA has increased each season. He was 13-10 with a 4.48 ERA in 2012.
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