Not Content With Just One Upton in the Outfield, Atlanta Trades With Arizona for the Other

by Jason Epstein

Mark Bowman of broke the story this morning: The Braves have traded with the Diamondbacks to get corner outfielder Justin Upton.

Upton had a down 2012 (.280/.355./430, 2.5 fWAR) but enjoyed stellar seasons in 2009 and 2011. He will play alongside his brother, B. J., who signed a $75.25 million, five-year contract to play center field earlier this offseason.

Atlanta sent to Arizona super-utility player Martin Prado (.301/.359/.438, 5.9 fWAR), young starter Randall Delgado (7.38 K/9, 4.08 BB/9, 4.37 ERA, 4.13 xFIP), and prospects Nick Ahmed (SS), Brandon Drury (3B), and Zeke Spruill (P).

Joining Upton at the Ted will be Chris Johnson (.281/.326/.451, 1.7 fWAR), who figures to replace retired legend Chipper Jones at third base.

Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated is less than impressed with Arizona’s take in the seven-player deal and points a finger at co-owner Ken Kendrick and general manager Kevin Towers for the club’s offseason transactions.

SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee explains why the trade is a risk for the D’backs:

Short analysis: Man, oh man, did Upton’s distaste for Seattle end up hosing the Diamondbacks. That reported package was a lot more impressive.

More short analysis: The Diamondbacks are gambling an awful lot on Delgado, but the odds are decent that they’ll be worse in 2014 and 2015 if Prado leaves as a free agent. They had Upton for the next three years at a much lower salary than he would get on the open market. I think in a year, the Diamondbacks will regret this deal, especially if they can’t re-sign Prado.

Still more short analysis: For 2013, though, the Diamondbacks filled a third-base hole with a pretty good player in Prado, and they still have a good outfield. That might almost qualify as an improvement in the short-term. Just ignore the once-every-other-decade-supposed-to-be-a-franchise-player guy going the other way. But there’s every reason to think the Diamondbacks aren’t convinced that Upton still is that franchise hitter, for whatever reason. He’s still just 25, but his production is on an every-other-year track right now. Maybe it’s the down years that are the real Upton.

More here.

In contrast, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs sees the glass as half-full for Arizona:

Cameron elaborates:

With Prado, the Diamondbacks finally get the third baseman they’ve been looking for, and a pretty good one at that. No, he’s not going to repeat the +6 WAR season he put up last year, which was driven by an outlier UZR, but he’s got a nice base of skills that should allow him to remain an above average player. He makes a ton of contact and has some pull power that should play well in Arizona, and he’s probably at least an average defender at third base.

More here.

For his part, D’backs fan John McCain supports John Kerry for Secretary of State but not Upton in another team’s uniform.

Right Field

Brief chronicles of our sporting times.