The Braves have been blessed with a few homegrown studs in Ronald Acuña, Mike Soroka, and Ozzie Albies that sped up the rebuild process exponentially. As the team was looking for ways to become more competitive, several competitors attempted to get their hands on them. Wisely, Anthopoulos never dealt them, even for a future MVP in Christian Yelich.
After the graduation of these prospects to the majors, the Braves still have one of the best farms in all of baseball, featuring two star outfielders at the top of their list. The difference, however, is Atlanta is now a lot closer to competing for a World Series than they were when Acuña and Albies made their debuts. The Braves are sitting in the middle of their championship window, with those two set to make pennies on the dollar for the next several years. The time to make a splash is now, and if Liberty Media doesn’t want to spend the money, the best way to improve might be through the trade market.
There are several marquee names on the block – like Kris Bryant, Francisco Linor, and Mookie Betts – and according to a report from David O’Brien of The Athletic, nobody on the farm is “untouchable.”
In a tweet from late last night, O’Brien quoted Anthopoulos saying, “I don’t know that it’s fair to compare him (Acuña) to anyone else. Look, we like a lot of our young players. But we’re open minded. I don’t think you ever want to close any doors on any trades.”
According to MLB.com, the Braves’ top prospects in the system are Cristian Pache and Drew Waters. The idea of a Pache/Waters/Acuña outfield has been talked about for years. Not only does it look like those three could wind up being an offensive juggernaut, but it also might be the best defensive outfield in the MLB today. As things stand now, they look like the future, but if Josh Donaldson gets re-signed, and Austin Riley returns to form in left field, Pache or Waters could be the centerpiece in a blockbuster.
The next top prospects are starting pitchers, Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright. With the Braves rotation currently incomplete and lacking top-of-the-line arms, I’d be surprised if Anderson was dealt. However, if the Braves sign an ace-type pitcher this offseason – like they will be aiming to – both of these guys become much more expendable on the trade market.
Since it would be foolish to expect Liberty Media to open up their wallets and go on a spending spree, I expect Anthopoulos to be heavily involved in the trade market. He’s made blockbuster moves in the past, just not yet in Atlanta. But this fan base is growing restless, and the Braves won’t be able to keep this core together at such an affordable rate for much longer. Eventually, a few of these top prospects are going to have to be moved. The question now is, which ones?