Thursday, January 24, 2013

TRADED! Justin Upton

To the Braves with Chris Johnson for five players.
I'm glad that a mutually beneficial Justin Upton trade happened because I was beginning to think it was impossible. The Diamondbacks acquire third basemen Martin Prado, right handed pitcher Randall Delgado, shortstop prospect Nick Ahmed, minor league first basemen Brandon Drury and another right handed prospect in Zeke Spruill in exchange for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson. Justin will be joining his older brother B.J. in the Braves outfield that also contains the slugger Jason Heyward, providing quite a formidable core of young starters who project to be good for a long time.

Justin Upton had previously been "traded" to the Seattle Mariners for a huge package headlined by excellent pitching prospect Taijuan Walker. Upton rejected this trade as per the limited no-trade clause in his contract, and in my opinion saved Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik's job by doing so. Upton is by no means anything besides a very good player, but their is a lot of hype in his name. His defense is at best slightly above average, and while his offensive numbers suggest the potential of superstar status, they aren't definite. His stats took a bit of a dive from his 2011 to 2012 campaigns, devolving from a .281/.369/.529 line to a .280/.355/.430 line.  At 25 years of age wavering numbers are no necessary cause for immediate alarm; but they do make players like Randall Delgado, who is older and has a lower ceiling, more of an appropriate trade target than Seattle's Walker.

As soon as news of Upton's trade and subsequent rejection-of-trade to the Mariners broke, it pretty much became necessity to move him. There was probably no better place for the former Diamondback to land than Turner Field. The team is young and competitive and it's been described by both brothers as a "dream come true" to be on the same team. I think the Braves got the better deal in the situation, adding a mix of youth and experience to an already exciting team. The D-Backs let Upton go for a good, not great package, and did so to build a team of "gritty" players. I think intangibles like that are totally inane, and I don't see why a "gritty" Cody Ross is going to be better than Justin Upton, but I'll save that critique for the Diamondbacks offseason review. I don't think this trade will put the Braves on the Nationals level, but it will make them that much more of a brutal contender.

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