Skip to content

The Justin Upton trade: The Braves get their man, the Diamondbacks do better than expected

Jan 24, 2013, 10:50 AM EDT

Justin Upton AP AP

Justin Upton was being dangled by the Diamondbacks forever, but he’s finally out the door. It’s a five-for-two deal:

For all the talk that the Diamondbacks’ leverage was gone when Upton blocked the proposed trade to the Mariners, Kevin Towers did pretty well in this deal.  In Prado he gets a solid starting third baseman who can play second and left field as well. They also get a guy who is coming off  a year in which he hit .301/.359/.438 with 10 homers and 70 RBI. And it wasn’t an outlier kind of year for him.

Delgado, who turns 23 in a couple of weeks, wasn’t spectacular in his 18 appearances for the Braves last season (4-9, 4.37 ERA 76 Ks and 42 BB in 92.2 IP), but he remains a solid pitching prospect who has stuck out 9.6 batters per nine innings in six minor league seasons. Spruill is a year and a half older and hasn’t hit the bigs yet. The Braves likely didn’t have him penciled in to their rotation any time soon. He doesn’t strike out a ton of guys but doesn’t walk many either. Ahmed, a second rounder in 2011 out of the University of Connecticut, hasn’t been above A-ball yet. He has promise, but is blocked by Andrelton Simmons. Drury is 20 and struggled in low-A ball last year.

No one piece of that package is spectacular, but there is a lot of upside in it, particularly with Delgado, and in Prado the Diamondbacks have upgraded their offense a great deal.

As for the Braves’ side of things: they got their man.  Upton may have struggled at times last season, but he has shown that he is capable  of elite performance at a young age, being only a year removed from an age-23 season in which he hit .289/.369/.529 while playing strong defense.  The biggest question will be how he does outside of the extremely friendly confines of Chase Field, where he boasts an OPS of .937. Compare that with his road OPS of .731.

In addition to Upton Atlanta gets Chris Johnson who may form the right-handed sign of a platoon at third base with Juan Francisco.  At least if no one tells Fredi Gonzalez that Johnson has hit righties better than he’s hit lefties in his career. For his part, Francisco is basically helpless against lefties.  Not the best third base situation in the world for the Braves, but Prado was entering his walk year and it’s doubtful that the budget conscious Braves were going to shell out big dollars for him when he became a free agent.

On balance, you have to invoke the “the team that got the best player won the trade” rule and say that the Braves won this trade, at least at the outset.  With the addition of Justin Upton the Braves have a middle-of-the-order bat they’ve lacked since Chipper Jones was able to play a full season. A middle-of-the order bat that’s under team control for three more years for $38 million, which isn’t too bad if he maintains his recent level of performance and is a downright bargain if he breaks out like many think he might. And putting him next to B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward, the Braves have one of the best outfields in baseball.

Whether this puts the Braves in a position to truly challenge the Nationals is an open question. But they have improved themselves.

Latest Posts
  1. Yankees prospect Luis Severino’s next start will be his major league debut

    Jul 31, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT

    Luis Severino Getty Images

    Yankees pitching prospect Luis Severino will make his major league debut within the next week.

  2. Clayton Kershaw scratched from Friday’s start against the Angels

    Jul 31, 2015, 6:14 PM EDT

    Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw

    Clayton Kershaw has been scratched from a start yet again due to a hip problem.

  3. The Winners and Losers at the Trade Deadline

    Jul 31, 2015, 5:37 PM EDT

    Cole Hamels Getty Images

    Yes, I realize it’s silly to do this an hour after the trade deadline, as time is required to see how this stuff truly shakes out. But what is the Internet for if not kneejerk reactions?

  4. Pirates acquire left-hander J.A. Happ from Mariners

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:33 PM EDT

    J.A. Happ AP

    J.A. Happ and Joe Blanton, reunited.

  5. Pirates pick up Michael Morse from the Dodgers for Jose Tabata

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    Michael Morse Marlins Getty Images

    He was DFA’d by the Dodgers as soon as they got him but he may platoon at 1B for Pittsburgh.

  6. So, the Padres sure did a whole lot of nothin’, eh?

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:20 PM EDT

    San Diego Padres Logo

    People thought they’d make four or five trades. They ended up doing nothing.

  7. 2015 MLB Trade Deadline Tracker

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Detroit Tigers v Seattle Mariners Detroit Tigers v Seattle Mariners

    We’re recapping all of the deals as they come down.

  8. Report: Yoenis Cespedes heading to the New York Mets

    Jul 31, 2015, 3:59 PM EDT

    cespedes getty Getty Images

    The Mets add a big bat to their anemic offense. And they don’t have to part with Zack Wheeler to do it.

  9. Garrett Jones designated for assignment by the Yankees

    Jul 31, 2015, 3:12 PM EDT

    Garrett Jones Yankees Getty Images

    Jones struggled in a part-time role for the Yankees.

  10. The Mets are making a push for Yoenis Cespedes

    Jul 31, 2015, 2:27 PM EDT

    Yoenis Cespedes Getty Images

    This is the third outfielder to whom they’ve been linked in three days. Let’s see if this one takes.

  11. The Blue Jays pick up Ben Revere from the Phillies

    Jul 31, 2015, 2:13 PM EDT

    Ben Revere Ben Revere

    He’s hitting hitting .298/.334/.374 and will likely take over left field duties.

  12. The Cubs, Padres and Red Sox are said to be talking about a three-way deal

    Jul 31, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT

    San Diego Padres Logo

    Jed Hoyer has worked for all three of these teams. He may be in the middle of a big trade involving them all.

  13. Twins trade for Rays reliever Kevin Jepsen

    Jul 31, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT

    Kevin Jepsen Rays Getty Images

    Bullpen help has been an obvious need for Minnesota.

  14. Cubs trade for Dan Haren

    Jul 31, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    Dan Haren Dan Haren

    The Cubs get a starter.

  15. Cardinals add more bullpen help, get Jonathan Broxton from Brewers

    Jul 31, 2015, 12:02 PM EDT

    Jonathan Broxton Brewers Getty Images

    Cardinals’ bullpen is suddenly stacked with closers and ex-closers.

  16. David Price got a flat tire on the way to Toronto

    Jul 31, 2015, 11:11 AM EDT

    david price getty Getty Images

    Maybe he’ll see Daniel Norris coming the other way in his van?

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. C. Hamels (5953)
  2. C. Gomez (4954)
  3. T. Tulowitzki (4439)
  4. M. Trout (4004)
  5. J. Cueto (3947)
  1. C. Gonzalez (3734)
  2. A. Rodriguez (3678)
  3. D. Price (3618)
  4. J. Bruce (3313)
  5. T. Clippard (3223)