Evan Gattis has an incredible story and gave the Braves two good years. That said, everyone knew a trade was coming during the 2014-2015 offseason. Gattis was an American League player on an NL club, and the Braves were in the midst of kicking off their rebuild.
The Braves dealt Gattis to the Houston Astros on January 15, 2015, for three prospects: Mike Foltynewicz, Rio Ruiz and Andrew Thurman. All three were seen as legitimate prospects at the time, with Foltynewicz and Ruiz headlining the deal.
Since the trade, Gattis has hit .238/.268/.452 with a 95 wRC+ over 213 games. His FanGraphs WAR in that time is -0.1, his Baseball-Reference WAR is 0.8. Those are poor numbers, and considering he is usually the DH for Houston, there is a chance the Astros decline his $5.2M option for 2017.
The Braves were wise to get rid of Gattis when they did.
Was the Foltynewicz, Ruiz and Thurman return enough?
Foltynewicz, 24, has been an enigma since coming over. Tuesday night's loss to the Phillies was a microcosm of the last 1.5 years; some moments of brilliance – Folty painted back-to-back 98mph fastballs on the outside corner in the first inning – but also surrendered four homers to one of the worst hitting teams in baseball. Folty has made strides since last season, but he's still learning. The stuff is there. Whether or not he ever figures it out over a full season will greatly determine how this deal is looked at in a couple years.
Ruiz, 22, really struggled while getting his first taste of Double-A last year. He went from a hitter's paradise in the California League to a pitcher's park in Mississippi, and there were concerns about his glove. Most everyone figured he was set to repeat Double-A.
Then came word that Ruiz had really improved his body during the offseason. Coaches in the spring said he looked like a completely different player. The Braves started him in Triple-A Gwinnett to the surprise of many, and he's done well ever since. He's hitting .274/.369/.383 with a 117 wRC+ after 77 games and 286 at-bats. A .353 BABIP is somewhat eye-opening, but it's not an absurd number. And while it's never a good idea to scout a box score for defense, Ruiz has committed just four errors this year compared to 16 last season.
A best-case scenario for Ruiz is he's a starting third baseman with a decent glove, a little pop and solid on-base skills. He won't be Chipper Jones, but even if he can give the Braves a couple of seasons at third considering the state of the roster right now, the trade would feel like a win.
Thurman, 24, is yet to find success at the higher levels of the minors. He currently owns a 6.12 ERA with Gwinnett through 18 appearances (12 starts). Walks are a serious issue.
Gattis will probably be out of baseball within two years, and there's enough upside with Foltynewicz and Ruiz for Atlanta to feel OK about the deal at this point. Both are still young with 10 combined years of control remaining. A worst-case scenario would be Foltynewicz shifts to the bullpen and Ruiz is unable to hit for enough power to stick at third base. Even then, I can't help but think this deal turns out favorably for Atlanta when we look back on it in five years.