The Braves recently made a rather surprising trade, sending Drew Waters, Andrew Hoffmann, and CJ Alexander to the Royals for the 35th pick in Sunday’s MLB Draft. The shocking part was Drew Waters departing, who was viewed by many as the top prospect in the organization, even if he was struggling to find success at the AAA level. He is still just 23-years-old, and the tools remain very flashy. However, when digging a little deeper, the trade makes a lot of sense.
The Braves current roster is loaded, and the outfield is crowded with several players who have years of control remaining on their contracts. It was going to be extremely tough for Waters to carve out a role for himself, and the longer the Braves held onto him, the more his value was going to descend.
Atlanta also needs to desperately replenish their farm system, which was recently ranked dead last by FanGraphs following the graduations of Michael Harris and Spencer Strider. They’ve had a lot of success in recent years with their Comp A selections in the MLB draft. Most notably, Austin Riley was Comp A pick from the 2015 MLB Draft (41st overall). So the hope is the Braves can select someone of a similar caliber that can contribute later down the line when the Braves have a bigger need.
The story of Drew Waters as a Brave should serve as a cautionary tale. As talented as he was and as highly rated as he became after his stellar 2019 season, no prospect is a sure thing. Most of them end up fizzling out before ever making a significant impact at the major-league level. However, Waters still has a chance to make his big-league dream a reality with an organization that is at least a couple of years away from competing, and Braves manager Brian Snitker seems to believe he has the tools to make it at the top level.
“I think it could be really good for him,” Snitker said, via Alex Lewis of The Athletic. “The situation he’s going into, they’re kind of in a rebuild, so to speak. And I think it’s probably really good for him. He’s a talented guy. Hopefully a change of scenery, maybe some new voices, things like that, help get him going. Because I’ll sure root for him. I really like the person and the skill set and everything. A lot of times, these kinds of things, you never know. Might look back and be the best thing that ever happened to him.”
A change of scenery can sometimes do a player wonders, especially one that was drafted by his hometown organization. I can’t imagine the type of pressure that comes with that, and perhaps we see a different Drew Waters with Kansas City. The biggest issue plaguing him right now is his strikeout rate, which is sitting around 30% and hasn’t come down in years. If he can correct that, Waters will be a high-quality major-league outfielder, but that’s easier than said than done.
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