Braves: Now is not the time to trade Cristian Pache or Drew Waters

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It’s the offseason, which means trade rumors will be swirling for the next several months. To this point, Alex Anthopoulos has refrained from making a blockbuster trade as the general manager of the Braves. That doesn’t mean one isn’t on the horizon, though. As the general manager of the Blue Jays, he made several game-changing deals. They didn’t all pan out, which might be why he’s more hesitant this time around, but eventually he’s going to pull the trigger on a significant trade, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was this offseason. And you can bet, anytime a hypothetical trade is mentioned, Drew Waters and Cristian Pache will be floated as potential centerpieces.

There are several reasons for that. Most notably, they are two of the Braves top prospects that several teams will be interested in. The Braves also have great organizational depth as far as the outfield is concerned, so they would be just fine if they parted ways with either Waters or Pache. And finally, both are coming off of subpar seasons in which many expected them to contribute at the major league level.

Pache began the season as team’s starting centerfielder, but it didn’t take long for the Braves to realize he was out of his depth. Through 22 games, he was hitting just .111 with a .358 OPS before the team decided to send him back to Gwinnett for the rest of the season, where he didn’t exactly thrive either. In 89 games with the Stripers, Pache hit .265 with 11 homers, resulting in a .744 OPS. He also struck out 97 times. It’s clear his bat still needs to catch up to his defense before he’s ready for The Show again.

There was hope Waters would also make his MLB debut in 2021. I always thought that was a bit far-fetched, but it wasn’t totally out of the realm of possibility if he could make a few slight improvements at the plate. Unfortunately, that never happened. Waters put together his worst statistical season as professional with Gwinnett. That’s not necessarily surprising, given the uptick in competition, and there were some positives — like his increased willingness to take walks — but overall, most considered his 2021 as a step in the wrong direction.

In regard to both players, I understand the concern, but it’s way too early to push the panic button. These are two young men who are well ahead of schedule compared to most minor league players. They still possess plenty of tools that will play at the major-league level, and I firmly believe they both will have productive careers. Now is not the time to give up on them, and it’s definitely not time to sell low.

A year ago, Pache and Waters were untouchable to many. Now, they are thrown into every trade hypothetical under the sun. There is a scenario in which they could be moved, but it better involve an All-Star caliber player in return. The same people  that are in a hurry to move Pache are the same people that clamored for Austin Riley to be traded. It takes some time to adjust to the big leagues; 22 games isn’t nearly enough of a sample size to make concrete conclusions. Thankfully, Alex Anthopoulos has shown patience throughout his time as the Braves general manager, and I imagine he will do the same with two of his most talented prospects.

 

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