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Anthopoulos talks Braves offseason at GM Meetings

CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA — 

Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos spoke with reporters at Tuesday’s GM meetings in San Diego. He covered a wide-ranging topics, including internal player development and how the team will go about adding external help.

Here are a few topics discussed:

— The Braves are interviewing pitching coach candidates, though names haven’t been disclosed. They’re conducting interviews in the next couple of days in California and will continue the process back in Atlanta.

“We’ve kept that quiet,” Anthopoulos said. “We’re not in a rush. Obviously we want to get that done, but we’re simultaneously trying to work on players, free agency and trades. We’re going to get some done (in San Diego), we’re going to get some done in Atlanta probably. We’ll get it announced when the time is right.”

— Anthopoulos is willing to package prospects for present-day difference makers. As he puts it, the challenge is knowing when to sell high and taking advantage of timing.

“The reason we have all these prospects is to win. And sometimes when winning is right in front of you, it’s easy to lose sight of that. We talk about sustained winning, sustained success. Sometimes you need to have success first. We focus so much on the sustainable side that we never get to the success. I do think, my opinion, you have to get to the success part first.”

— Starter Luiz Gohara has lost 35 pounds and has been “doing really well,” Anthopoulos said. Gohara is coming off a difficult year affected by numerous on-and-off-field hardships.

Gohara has been working out in Orlando rather than returning to his home country of Brazil. The Braves still view him as a starter long-term. The commitment to staying in Florida says a lot, according to Anthopoulos.

“I’m excited that we’re potentially going to see the guy we saw in September 2017,” Anthopoulos said. “In shape, ready to go, having a normal offseason. … We’re encouraged. It’s early, but we’re really encouraged.”

— Another prized young starter, Mike Soroka was shut down with shoulder soreness. He threw in instructional league and his velocity was where it needed to be, Anthopoulos said. Soroka will be full-go for spring training.

The Braves have four rotation locks as of today – Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, Kevin Gausman and Julio Teheran. Soroka, 21, would be among several fighting for the fifth spot. They will still consider adding a veteran, including a front-line arm, but free-agent Anibal Sanchez’s return doesn’t feel likely.

— Anthopoulos compared modern-day catching situations to how the NFL now uses running backs by committee. Across baseball, teams are favoring two-catcher systems rather than an individual carrying the bulk.

Miami catcher J.T. Realmuto is one of the few well-rounded backstops left, and a player the Braves have maintained interest in dating back the past year. But they also have their own prospect, William Contreras, who projects as one capable of handing routine duties.

“We’re really excited about him,” Anthopoulos said. “We like him as one of our better, young position players. We like everything about him. We like the bat, the way he receives. We like his tools. He doesn’t get talked about but he’s right there as one of our best position player (prospects) in our minds.”

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