After long rumors, the trade of 2B Brandon Phillips to the Braves was confirmed by the Cincinnati Reds. After Sean Rodriguez was injured in a traffic accident, the Braves were in serious need for a second baseman.
Phillips is in the final year of a six-year, $72.5 million, so his stay with the Braves will only be for a year unless they resign him after the 2017 season (which is unlikely). It is rumored that the Reds will eat most of his salary. The Braves will send left-hander Andrew McKirahan and right-hander Carlos Portuondo to the Reds
But what does this mean for the Braves’ prospect Ozhaino Albies? The youngster from Curacao was destined to play second base for the Braves as the team moved him down to AA, where Dansby Swanson was playing at shortstop, to form a double play tandem with him for the Mississippi Braves. With Sean Rodriguez under contract through the 2018 season, it remains to be seen if there is room on the Braves’ roster anytime soon.
Albies, still one of the top prospects of the Braves, worked his way up through the minor league system with lightning speed. In only three seasons, the shortstop worked his way up from the Gulf Coast League to the International League (AAA). Albies started the 2016 season at AA Mississippi where he crushed the opponent’s pitching. After only twenty games, he was promoted to Gwinnett (AAA). With the Gwinnett Braves, he struggled in the beginning but eventually managed to raise his batting average to .241 before he was sent down again to play alongside Dansby Swanson.
Perhaps the Braves want to keep Albies down in the minors for one more season to let him mature a bit more. At AAA his fielding percentage was significantly worse as at AA (.931 compared to .962 at shortstop and .965 compared to .992 at second base.
The Reds are in rebuilding mode as well. They traded away Jay Bruce, Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto in the past years. It is very unlikely that the Braves will send Albies or another top tier player to the Reds.
Due to this trade, the intentions that the Braves have with Albies are shrouded in mystery.