Braves Trade Justin Upton

The Braves have struck a deal with the Padres, sending Justin Upton to San Diego. And that’s not all …

According to reports, the Braves will ship Upton and an unknown minor leaguer to the Padres in exchange for LHP Max Fried, middle infielder Jace Peterson, third baseman Dustin Peterson and outfielder Mallex Smith.

Fried was the 7th overall pick in 2012, a 20-year-old with great potential but who has yet to dominate as a pro, mainly due to lack of command. His fastball sits in the low 90s and his curve seems to be his calling card — consider him Jon Niese at a similar stage in his career. Jace Peterson is a toolsy, athletic, spray hitter with average defensive skills and great speed; he can fit in at any of 2B, SS, or 3B. Turning 25 in May, Peterson is big-league ready, and fits into the Braves’ new movement of cutting down on strikeouts and showing more plate discipline; he’s walked 217 times and struck out 233 times in four seasons in the minors. Dustin Peterson (no relation to Jace, but the younger brother of D.J. Peterson) is a 20-year-old third baseman who was drafted #50 overall in 2012; scouts are split on his upside, though it’s clear that he’ll go as far as his bat takes him. Smith is a diminutive (5’9″), 21-year-old, slap-hitting speed-burner who, per scouting reports, sounds like a young Eric Young, Jr. Splitting his season between low- and high-A ball, Smith stole 88 bases in 120 games, posting a .403 OBP.

The Braves received quantity in return for Upton, but I’m not sure about the quality — everyone other than Jace Peterson (who likely steps in as the team’s starting second baseman on Opening Day) is very young and highly “projectable,” with question marks. If nothing else, the trade underscores Atlanta’s desire to change organizational offensive philosophy toward more athleticism and speed, less big swinging (and missing). I’m surprised they didn’t get a little more in return — such as catching prospect Austin Hedges — and also surprised they couldn’t get the Padres to take on Chris Johnson. But, that’s likely because San Diego made another deal to fill their hole at third base, trading catcher Ryan Hanigan (see below) to Boston in return for Will Middlebrooks.

That was the second blockbuster this week for San Diego, as they also acquired Wil Myers from Tampa Bay, with help from the Nationals. I’ll try to get this straight; bear with me. In addition to Myers, the Padres also received RHP Gerardo Reyes and LHP Jose Castillo from Tampa, as well as catcher Ryan Hanigan. Going to Tampa from San Diego are backstop Rene Rivera, RHP Burch Smith, and 1B prospect Jake Bauers. Additionally, Tampa gets OF Steven Souza and LHP Travis Ott from the Nationals. Somehow, some way, the Nats get from the Padres RHP Joe Ross and shortstop Trea Turner (though, he’ll have to be a PTBNL, because he was just drafted this past June — 13th overall). Many are saying that the Nats made out like bandits in getting Turner and Ross. Turner is a 21-year-old speed demon (that’s a common theme this winter, eh?) with average but legit defensive skill at shortstop; he is Washington’s backup plan in the event they can’t hold on to Ian Desmond. Ross is a 21-year-old starter who hangs in the 93-94 range but touches 97 MPH; my guess is he’ll be a late-inning reliever as a big-leaguer.

The trade of Matt Kemp to the Padres is also, finally, official.

Oh, the Padres also acquired catcher Derek Norris, RHP Seth Streich, and an international signing slot worth $144.1K from the Athletics, sending RHPs Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez to Oakland. AND, they signed David Ross (check that: now reports are saying that Ross has signed with the Cubs). AND, they’re about to re-sign Josh Johnson to a one year deal around $1M. Busy bees, those Padres. How many people do they have working in the front office? Lots of wheeling and dealing this past week.

In other news, the Giants have re-signed Jake Peavy to a two-year, $24M deal, and Sergio Romo to a two-year, $15M contract.

The Royals signed Edinson Volquez to a two-year, $20M deal.

Also, the Phillies trade of Jimmy Rollins to LA is official. Philadelphia receives RHP Zach Eflin and LHP Tom Windle. Eflin was the 33rd overall pick in 2013, a 20-year-old with a low-90s sinker but not much else right now. Windle, 22, throws in the low 90s and has a good slider, but questionable mechanics and a strange delivery; I’m guessing he’ll eventually be a LOOGY. Not a great haul for Philly, and in my opinion, a fantastic trade by the Dodgers, who get a solid, experienced shortstop in return for two pitchers who may never make an impact in MLB.

I think that’s it for now. My head is spinning. Hey, Mets fans, there’s still time for Troy Tulowitzki to appear under your Christmas tree!

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Bat December 19, 2014 at 4:10 pm
    • DanS December 19, 2014 at 6:31 pm
      RotoWorld says: “The chances of the two sides completing a deal are 5-10 percent. In other words, nothing has really changed here.”

      Maybe the Mets want the Rockies to include the cost of Tulo’s medical coverage.

  2. argonbunnies December 20, 2014 at 12:21 am
    Lots of good, but not A+, prospects being traded for major leaguers right now. I wonder if maybe some folks around baseball (especially in San Diego) are trying to take advantage of their peers’ obsession with prospects and maximize value for their second-tier guys. People talk about Wil Myers as a get for the Padres and Souza as an insignificant loss for the Nats, despite the fact that Souza’s minor league numbers are just as good as Myers’ were. It’s just because Myers is younger and thus more projectable.

    The highest-upside prospects moved were recent draftees, guys farthest from the majors — this may be an acknowledgment of the unlikeliness of any given player clearing that many hurdles.

    The Braves, meanwhile, seem to have faith in their ability to continue out-developing everyone. All they need is talent in the minors, and they’ll get big leaguers out of it. We’ll see. If it works, all their minor league coaches deserve raises.

    All this makes me wonder what the Mets could get for babies like Amed Rosario, Jhoan Urena and Dominic Smith, or kids who haven’t yet seen any MLB failures dampen their shine like Reynolds and Plawecki.

    • Joe Janish December 20, 2014 at 1:50 pm
      Good points on prospects being turned into MLBers. Ironically, the Mets seem to be a few years behind everyone else in terms of Moneyball tactics. Other teams were/are quicker to value defense and speed while the Mets overpay for power; other teams are selling high on unproven talent while the Mets hold dear to prospects; the Mets over-value pitching at a time when pitching is a surplus.

      As for Souza, I don’t know — he smells a lot like Andrew Brown. Yes, similar numbers to Myers, but Myers dominated AAA as a 21-year-old while Myers didn’t put up big stats until he was older than the competition he played against. The age difference is significant from that perspective.

      Also good point on the Braves. Suddenly their direction and philosophy looks very similar to that period prior to Frank Wren — you know, when they finished in first 15 times in 16 years? (Sorry, Frank)