The Houston Astros have acquired one of the most sought-after bats this off-season, agreeing to acquire catcher/first baseman Evan Gattis from the Atlanta Braves. In return, the Braves will receive pitchers Michael Foltynewicz and Andrew Thurman as well as third baseman Rio Ruiz. The trade was reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The #Astros have brought #Braves catcher Evan Gattis into Houston for a physical today. They are one of 3 teams aggressively pursuing him.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 14, 2015
Gattis, 28, has established himself as a premier power bat in his first two big-league seasons. Last season, Gattis slashed .263/.317/.493 with 22 homers and 52 RBI’s in 108 games. Gattis caught 93 games last year, but he was expected to be moved to left field. The team had shopped him quite a bit this offseason although it wasn’t expected that he’d be moved.
The Braves do get a bevy of talent in return, headlined by Foltynewicz. Foltynewicz, 23, was ranked as the #59 overall prospect in baseball by Baseball America prior to the 2014 season. Foltynewicz pitched out of the bullpen for the Astros in 2014 and posted a 5.30 ERA in 16 games. He has been a starter in the Minors, so he should be in the mix for a spot in Atlanta’s rotation in 2015.
Ruiz, 20, was the Astros' eighth-best prospect according to Baseball America. Last season, Ruiz spent the season at High-A Lancaster and slashed .293/.387/.436 with 11 homers and 77 RBI’s. Ruiz’s production is mighty impressive as he was 2-3 years younger than most players in the California League. Ruiz was Houston’s fourth-round pick in 2012.
Thurman, 23, was drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft. Last season, Thurman struggled to a 5.38 ERA in 26 appearances (20 starts) with Low-A Quad Cities of the Midwest League. He does seem to possess intriguing stuff as he averaged nearly a strikeout per inning.
For Houston, Gattis is the latest upgrade in an improving lineup. The team signed Jed Lowrie earlier in the off-season and still has slugger Chris Carter and a hopefully healthy George Springer in the middle of the lineup. Gattis is not arbitration-eligible yet, and he can be controlled until 2019.
The deal is still pending physicals, but Gattis could see time in left, and perhaps first base, where he played a handful of games for Atlanta in 2013.
Atlanta has had a strange offseason as they have dealt away Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and now Evan Gattis while signing Nick Markakis to a four-year, $48-million deal. It is clear the Braves are looking to rebuild, and they have received an impressive trio of prospects in this deal.