Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hot Stove Update: D'Backs Trade Justin Upton to the Braves

After over a year of rumored shopping of Justin Upton, the D'Backs today finally pulled the trigger on a trade to the Atlanta Braves for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado and 3 prospects.  The D'Backs also sent Chris Johnson to the Braves along with Upton to replace Prado at 3B.

Whenever I analyze a trade, I look at who the best player in the trade is, the ceiling of any prospects involved and money.  There is little doubt in my mind that the best player in this trade was Justin Upton.  I don't think it's really a close call on that one.  IMO, Upton also has the highest ceiling of any player in the trade including the prospects.  As for money, Upton is under contract for the next 3 seasons for a total of about $38 M, which is a bargain for a player of his caliber these days.  True, he had a down year last season, but he played with an injured thumb which tends to make hitting painful and difficult.

It's not that Prado is not a good player.  He is a very good player coming off a very good season.  Prado plays hard and plays multiple positions.  The problem is this trade is not about what happened last season.  It's about the future, for both teams.  Here are Upton's and Prado's hitting stats from last season:

Justin Upton:  .280/.355/.430 with 17 HR, 18 SB.
Martin Prado: .301/.359/.438 with 10 HR, 17 SB.

Pretty close, except that last year was likely Justin Upton's floor while it was likely Martin Prado's ceiling!

The D'Backs have made some head scratching moves in the last couple of seasons.  This offseason alone, they have unloaded Chris Young, Trevor Bauer and now Justin Upton.  Last year, they happily unloaded Stephen Drew and traded Jarrod Parker to the A's for Trevor Cahill.

Coming out of the 2011 season when they won the division, it looked like the D'Backs were building a formidable team for the future.  They had a nice core of athletic position players who were still on the upward career trajectory to go with a solid pitching staff with the best stable of pitching prospects in baseball.  At this point, it's pretty hard to figure out what they have.  The athletic core has been dismantled, and the pitching future looks a whole lot less formidable.

As for prospects in the trade, Randall Delgado has some upside as a pitcher.  Nick Ahmed looks like he can stick at SS, but why did they make that trade for Didi then?  The other two kids appear to be lottery tickets at best.

The Braves now have one of the most dynamic outfields in baseball with Justin and BJ Upton along with Jason Heyward.  20/20 guys all with potential for much more.

At this point, the Braves have to be considered the clear winners of this trade.  D'Backs fans have to be disappointed in the return they got for Justin Upton.  The D'Backs likely got much less than they could have by telegraphing, no, advertising, no, shouting from the rootops their desire to trade him.  That, coupled with trading him after a down season undoubtedly caused them to sell low, which they also did with Jarrod Parker, Stephen Drew and Trevor Bauer.

What do you think of this trade?


  1. I have no idea what the D-backs are doing. Remember when Giant fans were scared off what they would become with Upton, Baurer, Goldshmidt, Parker, Skaggs, Bradley? Well 3 of those are gone. They just seem to be shipping out players that didn't get along well with Gibson. In return they are getting role players and depleting their talent.

  2. atl have gotta be clear favs to win the east

    no clue what the snakes are about

    at this point, if im an fa, i think twice about choosing an org that is gonna force me to conform

    the west got just a bit less exciting

    hairston went to he will only be a giant killer 6 times during reg season

    btw,,,if i dont post for awhile, its not that i dont love you life is taking a bit of an extreme uturn...hopefully will be back on my feet soon...either that, or im gonna be living in my parents basement...for real


    1. Bacci,

      I am sorry to hear this. Hope things turn back around for you, and soon.


    2. Best wishes for a speedy healthy recovery bacc-ster!

  3. A reason as to why teams go downhill, bad decisions by GMs and I have no idea as to why the owners let this happen. I really dont see in any of these 2 trades who the Dbacks got better actually to me they got worse for next year and the future. As much as I disliked Sabean in the past years when the Giants were a bad team, I have to applaud him for not trading Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum when the Giants were still not competing, another GM would have traded Cain in the 2006-2008 period (Giants were a bad team) but he stuck with him thinking in the future.

  4. This might explain part of the reason for the moves:

    Basically, Tower luvs contact hitters and has been getting rid of ones who are not.

    1. That might be the reason for our presumed interest in Willie Bloomquist as well. Much mocked, but he is a vet, plays multiple positions and puts the ball in play.