The Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros have reportedly agreed to a trade that will send C/OF Evan Gattis to Houston in exchange for RHP Mike Foltynewicz, 3B Rio Ruiz, and RHP Andrew Thurman; All of whom were considered top prospects in Houston's farm system and will be seen as such in the Braves farm system.
Earlier today, our old friend Gondeee tweeted that the Braves and Astros were nearing a deal to send Gattis to Houston, and a couple of hours later, the trade has come to fruition (although as of right now, Braves.com beat writer Mark Bowman is saying that the deal is not done yet. However, all other outlets are saying that a deal is either close or done, so we're going to go ahead and run with it as well).
For the short term, this deal is obviously a huge blow to the Braves offense heading into 2015, as Atlanta will sorely miss the power that Gattis brought to the lineup. However, that same lineup was already probably going to be painful to watch in 2015 (and if it isn't already clear, the Braves do not have 2015 in mind as a year in which they'll be competing for meaningful games in October (unless a miracle happens)), so if you're going to go in the tank as far as that is concerned, you may as well go all in. However, the bright side is that this trade means that we will all be spared from seeing Gattis scuffle in left field, and now he gets to spread his wings and fly in his natural position of catcher and possibly DH as well, and he'll be doing it in a ballpark that is seemingly tailor-made to his strengths. As far as Gattis is concerned, he should be pretty excited to be heading to Houston.
Meanwhile, we as fans should be excited as well because the Braves have gotten an absolute haul in return. Both Mike Foltynewicz (#3 prospect in Houston's system according to Baseball America, #7 according to fangraphs) and Rio Ruiz (#8 according to Baseball America, #5 according to fangraphs) are highly regarded prospects, and Andrew Thurman is right behind them as well (#21 according to fangraphs and is at least top 20 in Baseball America's rankings). John Hart's mantra this offseason appears to be that you can't have enough pitching prospects, and the Braves have continued to fortify their farm system with some solid arms that will hopefully be cultivated in the minor league system. Also, the fact that the Braves acquired a minor league bat is pretty exciting as well, considering the fact that it really seemed like they were just loading up on pitching and ignoring position players.
Those worries should be set aside though, since the organization still has plenty of time to continue building the farm system. Also, it has to be said; In the short time that he's been in charge, John Hart and co. have done a pretty great job of rebuilding the Braves' farm system. The Major League team is probably going to be an utter mess in 2015, but we really shouldn't be worried about that. Right now, it should be very clear that the Braves have a laser-eyed focus on the future, and this deal cements that. We as fans should be dreaming of watching a competitive team in that jewel of a new stadium in Cobb County as we hopefully cheer on most of the new faces that have been and will be acquired, once they reach the Major League in 2017 and beyond.
But now it's time to move the focus back on Gattis, as his 4-year stint with the Braves organization has come to a close. We all know El Oso Blanco's backstory by now, and we should all be thankful for the fact that he was able to turn his life and career around and become one of the most beloved figures on the team over the past 2 seasons. To go from being a 23rd Round pick to being one of the offensive pillars of a Major League ballclub (he hit .253/.304/.487 with .341 wOBA, 43 HRs, and 117 wRC+) is a testament to his determination to succeed and overcome the demons that he was wrestling with before the Braves drafted him. Again, the story of Evan Gattis is an incredible one, and we should all wish him the very best as he starts his new chapter in Houston.