Cleveland Indians: 3 prospects to watch for in return packages at deadline

Cleveland Indians / Cleveland Guardians President Chris Antonetti (Photo by David J. Becker/Getty Images)
Cleveland Indians / Cleveland Guardians President Chris Antonetti (Photo by David J. Becker/Getty Images) /
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Drew Waters, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians
Drew Waters #81 of the Atlanta Braves (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Cleveland Indians Trade Target #1: Drew Waters, OF, Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves are currently two games below .500 at 48-50, sitting just five games behind the Mets in the NL East. It’s possible Atlanta is having a bit of a playoff hangover after reaching the NLCS in 2020, but they’ve had their fair share of struggles in 2021, especially with pitching.

The biggest issue for Atlanta is the loss of budding superstar Ronald Acuna Jr, who tore his ACL in early July tracking down a fly ball in right field. The Braves have since acquired Joc Pederson from the Cubs to fill plug that leak, and that likely won’t be the only move made by Atlanta.

Should Atlanta call Cleveland to try and make a splash at the deadline and make a push for the division, Drew Waters is a name that has to be discussed at length. The Braves have quite a log jam in the outfield this year and beyond, having traded for Pederson rather than promoting top prospect Christian Pache to fill in for Acuna Jr. So, despite being the team’s No. 2 prospect Waters might be expendable.

Waters is a 22-year old outfield prospect, measuring at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, projecting as a strong corner outfielder with an above average bat. So far in 2021 Waters has slashed .256/.346/.439 in 56 games with Triple-A Gwinnett, logging 15 doubles and eight home runs. He does have a career 29.8% strikeout rate in the minors which is concerning, but at just 22 he has ample room and opportunity to grow.

No player in Cleveland is truly unavailable, so Waters will likely be the prize return for a particularly big fish. Regardless of how the Braves approach the deadline, Cleveland Indians General Manager Mike Chernoff wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t ask for Waters should Atlanta come calling. Waters’ circumstances are a bit more flexible than any other team’s No. 2 prospect in baseball, and the Tribe need an outfielder of his caliber.