Following the recent outlandish rumors surfacing regarding Ronald Acuña’s standing within the Braves organization — a report that was eventually denied by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic — I thought it would be a fun exercise to go through which pieces of the Braves are the most untouchable. Atlanta has a boatload of options to choose from, which actually made this list quite difficult to put together.
5. Ozzie Albies
With Vaughn Grissom in the fold, I wouldn’t say Albies is totally untouchable, but it would take something pretty special in return for the Braves to part ways with their second baseman. 2022 was a season marred by injuries, but Albies is just a year removed from being named an All-Star and blasting 30 homers. Toss in the fact that he has five more seasons of team control at an ultra-team-friendly price point of $7 million a year, and it would have to be a blockbuster deal for Anthopoulos even to consider moving Albies.
4. Austin Riley
Riley was deservedly handed the most lucrative deal in Braves history a few months ago. He’s been the leader of the offense for the past two seasons, and while he struggled to end the 2022 campaign, I have the utmost faith he’ll be in the MVP conversation again 12 months from now. As far as value goes, Riley may be the most pivotal piece to the team; however, he comes in at #4 because he’s set to be paid much more than anybody else on this list.
3. Spender Strider
The final three players on this list could really go in any order. I think Strider has the potential to be a multiple Cy Young award winner. It wouldn’t shock me one bit if he took home the award next year. He’s that dominant already, and he should only get better as he gains more experience. The reason why I went with the other two players ahead of him is because of their ability to play every day.
2. Michael Harris II
This year’s NL Rookie of the Year, Harris has as bright of a future ahead of him as just about any player in baseball. There is nothing that he can’t do. He can hit for power, hit for average, steal bases, and play Gold Glove defense. He has a claim at the top spot on this list of Braves, but because of the sample size, I went in a different direction.
1. Ronald Acuña Jr.
Acuña may have had a down year following his torn ACL, and it is true — his lengthy injury history is worrisome. Spencer Strider, Michael Harris II, and Austin Riley are also All-Star players. However, when healthy, there is no better player in this organization than Ronald Acuña Jr. He’s the best player in the National League and would be in the conversation for the best player in baseball had he not torn his ACL. I think he will come back with a vengeance following a full healthy offseason, and he still has six years remaining of affordable team control. Acuña is the best bargain in baseball, and there was never a chance the Braves were going to part ways with him this offseason.
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