• Exclusives

    Braves acquire Justin Upton from D-Backs

    News hit the wires this morning that the Atlanta Braves had reached a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks to acquire outfielder Justin Upton.

    The preliminary details of the deal are as follows: The Braves will acquire Upton (LF) and Chris Johnson (3B) for Randall Delgado (RHP), Martin Prado (LF/3B), Nick Ahmed (SS), Zeke Spruill (RHP), and presumably Brandon Drury (1B). Important to this deal is the fact that Atlanta’s general manager Frank Wren did not give up any of the organization’s top pitching prospects (Baseball America ranked Spruill 7th among the Braves’ pitching prospects).

    As was reported here earlier by Andrew Hirsh, the Braves became a more likely trade partner with the Diamondbacks for Upton when the outfielder vetoed a trade that was arrived at between the Diamondbacks and the Mariners. The Mariners, unlike the Braves, would have given up one of their top three pitching prospects as part of that deal. With that blocked deal and the Rangers announcing they were out of the running for the younger Upton, the door opened for Frank Wren. In addition to potential trade partners falling away, Kevin Towers, GM of the D-Backs, was dealing with a log jam of outfielders with the acquisition of Cody Ross. Towers had been seeking offers for either Upton or Jason Kubel.

    What the Braves get from the Diamondbacks

    1. Justin Upton (OF): .280/.355/.430 in 2012 with 155 hits, 17 home runs, 67 RBIs and 18 SB.

    2. Chris Johnson (3B): .286/.321/.503 in 2012 (44 games) with 42 hits, 7 home runs, and 35 RBIs.

    What the Braves give up to the Diamondbacks

    1. Randall Delgado (RHP): 4-9, 4.37 ERA, 1.414 WHIP, and 76 strikeouts (92.2 innings) in 2012.

    2. Martin Prado (LF/3B): .301/.359/.438 in 2012 with 186 hits, 10 HRs, 70 RBI and 17 SBs.

    3. Nick Ahmed (SS Class-A Advanced Lynchburg): .268/.337/.391 with 136 hits, 6 HRs and 49 RBIs in 2012.

    4. Zeke Spruill (RHP Class-AA Mississippi): 9-11, .367 ERA, 106 strikeouts (161.2 innings) in 2012.

    5. Brandon Drury (1B at Class-A Rome): .229/.270/.333 in 2012 with 102 hits, 6, home runs, and 51 RBIs.

    On paper this trade makes the Braves a very solid club with the potential lineup of 1-Simmons, 2-J.Upton, 3-JHey, 4-B.J.Upton, 5-Freeman, 6-Uggla, 7-McCann, 8-Johnson/Francisco. We can assume at this point that Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco will platoon at third base. Francisco has had a stellar winter in the Venezuelan League, but his inability to hit left-handed pitched remains an issue.

    With the trade of Delgado, we can assume that Julio Teheran will fall into the fifth rotation spot.

    While Braves Country will surely feel an emotional loss with Martin Prado, the Braves and Prado were heading to an arbitration hearing after not reaching an extension agreement. Prado will enter free agency at the end of 2013. It is widely believed that Prado will seek $11-12 million per year in a multi-year deal following the 2013 season. This would have been a number the Braves would not have been willing to pay for Prado. Prado’s versatility and clutch hitting will be missed by the Braves, but the ability to sign a player with the potential of Justin Upton for multiple years far outweighed the loss of Prado. The trade of Prado also frees up about $10 million in payroll should the Braves need an additional piece in 2013.

    Justin Upton will be joining his brother B.J., signed to a 5-year deal by Frank Wren this winter, and Jason Heyward in the Braves outfield. Atlanta’s outfield immediately becomes one of the most dynamic Major League Baseball.

    The Justin Upton deal is pending a physical.

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter @framethepitch" href="https://twitter.com/#%21/framethepitch">@framethepitch.