The days of rebuilding are well past us in Atlanta. At 47-33, with a 5.5 game lead over the Phillies in the NL East, the Braves feel like a team capable of capturing a World Series trophy – especially if they patch up some of their holes at the trade deadline. They desperately need to find a closer, or late relief arm and could use another starter to bolster an inconsistent rotation as well. Even with the emergence of some of their youth, the Braves still have one of the most coveted farm systems in all of baseball. They have the prospect capital to go after anyone on the market, but not all of their young talent should be available, and not all for the same reason.
5. Luiz Gohara
I highly doubt this is the name many of you expected on a list of “untradeable prospects,” but here we are. The Braves acquired Gohara as a 20-year-old in 2017 in a trade that involved Mallex Smith and Shae Simmons heading to Seattle. The season before they traded for him (2016), he posted a 1.81 ERA over close to 70 innings. Atlanta gave him a shot in the majors as a 21-year-old, and he struggled as expected but remained a top prospect in the organization and all of baseball.
2018, however, was a lost year for Gohara because of family and weight issues. We hoped that the pounds he shredded in the offseason meant a bounce-back campaign was in the cards, but all signs are pointing toward this being another wasted season for the southpaw. Gohara has been injured, and there have been no reports regarding his return.
With that said, this is still an uber-talented prospect that is only 22-years old. His value has to be non-existent at this point, so I don’t see the Braves including him in any trade because it will be difficult for them to acquire a proper return on their investment.
4. William Contreras
The Brian McCann and Tyler Flowers duo has been ten times better than expected but cannot continue forever. William Contreras, the brother of All-Star catcher Willson Contreras, appears to be next in line to hold down the fort. The Braves like the way he handles the staff and believe his bat could become a plus-tool – for a catcher at least. He was recently promoted to AA Mississippi and is the Braves 6th ranked prospect, according to MLB.com. Atlanta did take a catcher, Shea Langeliers out of Baylor, with the 9th overall pick in this year’s draft and think he could rise up the system quickly. But the organization would be hard-pressed to trade any of their catching depth.
3. Drew Waters
The idea of a Pache, Acuña, Waters outfield is something all Braves fans should be dreaming of. All three are five-tool players and would give Atlanta the best defensive outfield in baseball. They can also rake. Waters has taken massive strides with the bat in his second full season in the minors. He’s hitting .334 with 25 doubles and five home runs in 72 games for AA Mississippi, and his power will only continue to grow as he fills out with age. The Braves are loaded with top-of-the-line pitching prospects, but their bats in the minor leagues are slacking. They shouldn’t be looking to trade one of the few that is not.
2. Ian Anderson
Anderson might be the best pitching prospect the Braves have had throughout this rebuild. Atlanta took him with the 3rd overall pick in the 2016 draft out of Shenendowa High School in New York. Coincidently, that was the same high school that Hawks shooting guard, Kevin Huerter, attended. Anderson has a 3.20 ERA in 15 starts this season for AA Mississippi, but what is telling are his strikeout numbers. He’s struck out 99 batters in 78.2 innings this year and fanned 142 in 119.1 innings last season. His ERA since turning professional is 2.78. This is a prospect with prototypical Ace stuff and should find himself in AAA by season’s end. The Braves have a boatload of talented pitching prospects, but Anderson would hurt the most to lose.
1. Cristian Pache
This should have been obvious. Frankly, there likely won’t even be a trade candidate available at the deadline that would force the Braves to consider trading Pache. No, he wouldn’t be included in a Bumgarner deal, or Stroman, or even Bauer for that matter. This is a prospect that is already regarded as the best defensive player in the system, that includes the major league squad, and we saw glimpses of it in spring training. The contact bat has always been there. Pache is sitting around .300 again this season, but it is his emerging power that makes him untradeable.
Two years ago, he had yet to hit a professional home run. Pache bumped that up to nine last season and already has ten halfway through 2019. His slugging percentage is also 100 points higher this season (.515) than his career average (.405). Pache is the centerfielder of the future in Atlanta. It would have to be a blockbuster of epic proportions – I’m talking a Max Scherzer type arm – for the Braves to even blink at an offer for him.