The Atlanta Braves have pulled the trigger on a huge trade today. They will receive outfielder Justin Upton and third basemen Chris Johnson from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for a five-player package. The Braves gave up two major leaguers and three prospects. This trade makes the Braves one of the favorites to come out of the National League.
Atlanta has always been built around pitching going back to the days of Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, and Avery. Their recent teams have been no different. They have tons of good young starting pitching but always lacked the power bat in the middle of the lineup. With the retirement of Chipper Jones the Braves desperately needed a bat that could protect Jason Heyward in the middle of their order.
The Braves pulled off this deal without having to trade their top prospect, Julio Teheran. They parted with Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Nick Ahmed, Zeke Spruill, and Brandon Drury. None of these players are real elite players or prospects.
Martin Prado was the best player in the deal going to Arizona. He was slotted to take over third base for Atlanta this season. Delgado projects as a middle of the rotation starter who has had some success at the major league level. Ahmed is a defensive specialist with some decent wheels; Spruill was the Braves 9th ranked prospect that hasn’t been very good in the minors, and Drury seems more as a throw in then anything.
The Braves will get the bat that they have needed for years in Justin Upton and they get the right-handed compliment to Juan Francisco at third base in Chris Johnson. Upton is a 25 year old with MVP talent. In 2011 he put up great numbers hitting .289 with 31 homeruns. He had a down year in 2012 after injuring his thumb and having to deal with all of the trade rumors. Johnson is a solid third basemen who will fit in perfectly with Juan Francisco as a platoon player.
Atlanta’s lineup with Upton will feature a great balance of four lefties and four righties plus the pitchers spot and puts a great combination of speed and power. Also it gives the Braves one of the most athletic outfields every assembled as Upton joins his brother B.J and Jason Heyward. The Braves scored the 17th most runs in baseball last season. The addition of Upton will certainly improve on that position.
The National League East is one of the toughest divisions in baseball. They have three teams that could all make a run at the division title. This puts the Braves in a great spot to do just that. They now have a very good lineup to go with their great starting pitching and lights out bullpen. The Braves will definitely be an interesting team to watch this season.
Here were my thoughts on this trade from earlier this month.