As we march towards 2018, it seemed like as good a time as any to touch on some of the hot button topics surrounding the Atlanta Braves.
How much did MLB's penalties hurt the Braves' rebuilding efforts?
Ivan: A moderate amount. On the one hand, the penalties targeted players who were relatively far away, whereas the contention window was supposed to open earlier. However, a big blow is the inability to use the voided prospects as trade pieces. For example, Kevin Maitan probably had enough surplus value as a prospect, even one whose stock was declining, to fetch a meaningful upgrade for the major league team, but the Braves don’t have that luxury anymore. The Braves are still in the same place they were before the penalties: they have to make smart moves to be able to compete. It’s just that now, the array of options for those smart moves has lessened, because they have less to give up in return on any trade.
Scott Coleman: It definitely stings, but I don’t think it’s a doomsday scenario. The farm system depth was going to thin out the next few years anyway, and not having the IFA pipeline to restock it will be felt in 2019 and beyond. At the same time, there are so many legitimate prospects in the system even after the departures, and the team is set up to have a young (and controlled) core with Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies, Luiz Gohara and others for the next 6+ years.
Sam Meredith: It definitely puts a damper on things but in no way does it justify a need to restart the rebuilding process. The Braves impact prospects are on the doorstep of the Major Leagues and the team won’t necessarily feel these penalties until four or five years down the line. It’s also entirely possible that the Braves won’t have to worry at all if they draft well and make good trades to pick up international talent that they may miss out on otherwise. It is also a testament to how deep the Braves system is that they can lose someone like Kevin Maitan (who would be a number one prospect in almost anyone else’s system) and still continue to maintain their current path to contention.
Brad Rowland: The sanctions singlehandedly doom the franchise for years to come. Ok, just kidding. It obviously hurts given the present talent vacating the system and the hardships on building through that particular avenue in the near future. Still, this is a farm system that is supremely equipped to deal with that kind of shortfall, even if it will be felt.
Demetrius Bell: While this probably didn’t hurt the Braves’ rebuild when it comes to the short-term, the sanctions in the international market could end up hurting them long term. One of the best ways to rebuild your minor league pipeline in an under-the-radar type way is through the international market and the Braves are definitely going to be hamstrung in that regard. That’ll probably have a bigger impact than the actual loss of prospects, even with the loss of Kevin Maitan. With that being said, whether the current Braves regime rates him highly or not, that’s still a big loss. Again, it’s not anywhere near a death-blow when it comes to the short-term but there’s definitely a concern that the Braves are really going to feel this down the road. Hopefully they’ll have returned to being a contending team by then and that’ll soften whatever blows they have to sustain.
Kris Willis: The penalties hurt there is no doubt about that but a strong minor league system remains and a lot of the heavy lifting of this rebuild has already been completed. Still, being essentially shut out of the international market for the next few seasons will make things more difficult and put more pressure on the front office to get things right in the domestic draft.
Eric Cole: The biggest effect that the sanctions will have will be due to the restrictions in future signing classes. It is bad enough to essentially lose an entire signing class that included some really promising prospects including Maitan, Severino, etc….but the Braves are going to be unable to be real participants in the next two classes for the top guys and have another class where they will be hamstrung. It isn’t a death penalty by any means, but it does mean that the front office is going to have to have really strong drafts and be creative with trades in order to keep the talent pipeline flowing.
Dillon Cloud: Given the ages of all the prospects involved, it will be tough to gauge the impact of the Braves’ penalties for some time. The loss of prospect capital in the short-term is tough to swallow, but given the depth the organization has accrued it should be less of a blow than it would be for most clubs. Losing what was largely considered a generational talent in Maitan could make a lot of people connected with the Braves lose sleep for decades but the toughest of the penalties, in my mind, is the future international restrictions that will eliminate a vital market for Atlanta. Time will tell, but even with the restrictions, the Braves rebuild should carry on as planned. The real damage will likely be felt once the Braves are back in contention.