ATLANTA – After putting together a roster that returned the Braves to the playoffs, general manager Frank Wren was rewarded with a two-year contract extension that keeps him in Atlanta through the 2013 season.
The Braves announced the deal Monday, an agreement that means Wren and new manager Fredi Gonzalez are signed for the next three years.
"We feel like we're on the right path," Wren told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from the team's spring training camp in Kissimmee, Fla. "We finally got back to the playoffs last year, and we want to take it a little father. I'm excited to be part of that."
The 52-year-old Wren is entering his fourth season as general manager, promoted to the post after longtime GM John Schuerholz moved up to team president. Wren previously served as Schuerholz's top assistant for eight seasons.
"Frank has done an excellent job leading our baseball operations the last three years, culminating with a return trip to the playoffs last season," Schuerholz said. "He and his staff have worked extremely hard in strengthening our major league club and our minor league system."
Schuerholz assembled teams that won a record 14 straight division titles from 1991-05. The Braves failed to make the playoffs his final two years as GM, and the drought continued during Wren's first two seasons.
But the signing of key veterans such as Billy Wagner and the emergence of young players such as Jason Heyward and Martin Prado helped the Braves win the NL wild card last season. In the division series, they lost a four-game series against the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants, with every contest decided by one run.
"You can see the light at the end of the tunnel when you have good young players coming up, and you know you have the resources to go out and make key additions," Wren said. "We felt like we were on the right track. It's not always a real quick turnaround. You've got to go through the process and build a strong foundation. It took us a year or so to get that headed in the right direction."
Bobby Cox, who had managed the team since 1990, retired after the playoff loss. Wren quickly moved to hire Gonzalez, a former Florida manager and Braves coach, as the replacement to ensure a smooth transition.
Also during the offseason, Wren engineered a trade with the Marlins for slugging second baseman Dan Uggla, giving Atlanta a right-handed power hitter it desperately needed. The team quickly gave Uggla a $62 million, five-year contract.
Schuerholz praised Wren's handling of "the difficult and important task" of picking Cox's successor. Wren said he expects the switch to Gonzalez to be as seamless as his move to GM.
"There's a lot of similarities," Wren said. "We both followed guys who are going to be Hall of Famers. John did everything he could to help me be successful, and Bobby is doing the same thing for Fredi. At the same time, they've been very gracious to step aside and allow us to make decisions."