The Atlanta Braves held off through the winter meetings and the winter months to decide on what to do with their left field position. Talks have been all over the map with who could play the LF position starting with Martin Prado playing both left field and third base, Evan Gattis taking over the left field position as well as Jordan Schafer and even Todd Cunningham have been talked about. But nothing concrete from the offices other than if they go into the season with what they have, they will be ok with their lineup and have a platoon with Prado, Reed Johnson and Juan Francisco.
Trade talks swirled through the Wednesday night regarding Justin Upton to the Braves. I saw a combination of many major league Braves players as well as minor league players. The rumors were everywhere, but in time this is what the trade includes.
Arizona Diamondbacks getting
Martin Prado, 3B, LF, UTL
Zeke Spruill, P
Nick Ahmed, SS
Brandon Drury, 1B, 3B
Atlanta Braves getting
Justin Upton, OF
Chris Johnson, 3B
The Braves will now have Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward for at least three years. Plus, they are getting Chris Johnson who is entering his prime seasons and hit around .280 last year. Also, the new “CJ” will be under contract for 495,000.
It was reported when Prado’s contract negotiations fell through, that he was looking for a multi year contact worth around $11-$12 million annually. With that the talks stopped, leading to believe the Braves would not be interested in signing the large contact Prado was interest in now or in the future. So with the Braves front office probably not interested in signing Prado to the multi year deal he wanted, he would likely of walked after the season. Now with Prado going to Arizona, the Braves will have around $10 million to spend if they are still looking to add before spring training.
On paper, the trade looks exciting for both teams. Arizona will be getting a clutch hitter in Prado who is also a leader in the clubhouse and has batted above .300 4 of the past 5 seasons. Delgado is MLB ready and displayed this last season. He is only 22 years old (will turn 23 February 9th) and could potentially be a top of the order guy. Zeke Spruill is also a young pitcher who has been on Baseball America’s top 10 Braves prospect list the past two seasons. He hasn’t pitched above AA but has the height (6’5”) and stuff to develop into a middle rotation, if not top of the rotation pitcher. The short stop Arizona will be getting is Nick Ahmed, he was drafted in 2011 by the Braves out of the University of Connecticut. The Braves had high hopes for Ahmed but with Andrelton Simmons locked in at SS, Ahmed would be blocked to reach MLB level for years. Brandon Drury is a highly regarded corner infield prospect that had a monster 2011 season in rookie ball with a .347 average and eight homeruns. He struggled in 2012 finding his groove in A ball but he was only 19 years old and still has plenty of time to mature.
The Braves get a potential 30/30 guy in Justin Upton who can blossom playing beside his brother, B.J., in the outfield. Justin Upton is a guy that we may have not seen his best days yet, being only 25 years old, he has many great years ahead of him. Early reports are that Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco with platoon the third base position with Johnson hitting versus left handed pitching and Francisco hitting against righties.
Overall, I hate to see Prado leave the Braves organization but like Jason Heyward tweeted “MartÍn is a great all around person. That’s the business side of the game unfortunately” baseball is still a business and deals like these occur.