It was no coincidence that the Braves’ regression began after Mike Soroka and Brandon McCarthy were placed on the disabled list in late June. There’s a chance neither will return this season. No team can lose 40 percent of a rotation and not feel it. Gausman fills part of that gap.
No, he’s not as good as Chris Archer, but here’s what the Pirates shed for a guy who has become better known for having a great contract than working great games – 24-year-old pitcher Tyler Glasnow and 23-year-old outfielder Austin Meadows (of Loganville’s Grayson High), both of whom had been among baseball’s top 10 prospects not long ago.
Here's what the Braves exported for Gausman and the reliever Darren O'Day (who's on the 60-day DL) – third baseman Juan Carlos Encarnacion, their No. 14 prospect as adjudged by MLB Pipeline; catcher Brett Cumberland, their No. 30 prospect, plus pitchers Bruce Zimmerman and Evan Phillips, neither of whom is ranked.
The happy totals: To land Gausman and O'Day, the big bopper Adam Duvall and the relievers Jonny Venters and Brad Brach, the Braves sacrificed not a single top 10 prospect. Anthopoulous toed the fine line between doing too little and doing too much.
The GM did right by the 2018, who needed and expected his help, and also by the Braves of 2019 and beyond. There’s no huge get among the newcomers, but Anthopoulos found four guys who should help meet this team’s needs. He did this in exchange for two top 30 prospects; two lesser prospects; a few international signing slots; two pitchers who’d never have been more than long relievers here, and Preston Tucker, at best a fourth outfielder. That’s savvy shopping.
Two and a half weeks ago, Anthopoulos told this correspondent: "I'd say 90 percent of the players that are actively available right now are rental players that we'd have for two to three months. Certainly not ideal for us, especially since it's going to require trading away young talent; we're likely not going to be taking anything away from the big-league team. That's certainly not the model that we want to pursue. That said, we also want to take advantage of having a good season in 2018."
Then: “We would prefer not to go after rentals unless the acquisition cost just makes so much sense for us. There’s a lot of pain that has gone into putting together this young talent. We’re not ready to throw that all away just because of one season. That said, I do think we owe it to the players and the fan base and the organization to make this team better, one way or another.”
It was never going to be easy to balance the here and now against tomorrow, but Anthopoulos did it. (The two biggest names acquired, Duvall and Gausman, are under team control through 2021 and 2020, respectively.) In his first deadline as Braves GM, Alex Anthopoulos aced the audition.