In order to retain the financial flexibility to keep the club's rotation strong and also address the needs at first base, outfield and the back end of the bullpen, Wren is expected to explore the possibility of trading Lowe, who is owed $45 million over the final three years of his contract.
"It's an obvious position of strength and when you're looking to improve your club, you're looking at where you can improve it at the expense of some other area," Wren said. "We'll see when we come out of our planning meetings what we feel is most appropriate."
Cox, who will join Wren and the club's other top scouts and administrators in Orlando next week for the planning meetings, certainly doesn't buy into the possibility that the team could opt to trade Vazquez, who went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA and notched 238 strikeouts in his first season with the Braves this year.
"I haven't ever thought about trading him," Cox said. "I know we've got him for one more year. You'd have to get an awful lot."
As I see it, the Braves have four obvious choices for the 2010 rotation.
SP1) Javier Vazquez
SP2) Tim Hudson
SP3) Tommy Hanson
SP4) Jair Jurrjens
The fifth spot is where the Braves have some room to maneuver. Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami, and Kris Medlen could all be viable options. Depending on what happens with the bullpen in the offseason, it might be worth giving Medlen a serious look as the fifth starter during spring training. Alternatively, he might be paired with Hanson as a long reliever to help manage the latter's workload.
I suppose the point I'm trying to get across is that there are a lot of places Frank Wren could go from here. It's encouraging that he's looking at trading his most expensive, least effective pitcher (though I assume the Braves would end up eating a significant portion of his salary in any trade).