Braves Acquire Justin Upton
What the heck? Is it the winter meetings again?
The Diamondbacks have finally traded Justin Upton. He and Chris Johnson go to Atlanta in return for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, minor league shortstop Nick Ahmed, pitcher Zeke Spruill and third baseman Brandon Drury.
First things first: the Mets were never going to put together a package like that for Upton. They simply cannot afford to send away that much volume.
Now, in terms of the deal, this makes plenty of sense for the Braves. Prado is the best player they gave away, and I believe he’ll be missed; he’s one of those “ballplayers” who does all the little things that lead to winning. He’s also an excellent hitter. But you have to give something to get something, and the Braves got something pretty good.
People are mixed about Upton – some say he’s a has-been, others say he’s on the cusp of greatness. I lean toward the latter. I don’t know that he’ll become a superstar, but considering he’s only 25, I’m betting he’ll put up numbers that are close to All-Star caliber over the next five years.
Further, don’t underestimate the acquisition of Chris Johnson. He quietly steps into the 3B hole left behind by the retired Chipper Jones, and he’ll be a solid if unspectacular replacement. He won’t hit 30 homers but he’ll probably hit about 15, maybe 20, and bat around .270-.280 — which is all the Braves will need with their suddenly potent lineup. Johnson needs to jack up his OBP and his defense absolutely has to improve, but he seems to be the type of player who works hard and can become at least adequate defensively. He and lefthanded-hitting Juan Francisco may prove to be a powerful platoon at 3B. Together, it’s realistic to expect the duo to provide 30+ homers — not too shabby.
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