Did the Atlanta Braves have a taker for B.J. Upton, and ax the trade? Yep.
There’s been a lot of letters typed about a bad contract swap that would have sent B.J. Upton to a mystery team and brought back a bad contract in return, but NOW we have sufficient evidence of who the team was and who the player would’ve been!
Bob Nightengale of the USA Today confirmed reports that a trade was discussed between the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves that would have sent bad contracts to each other. The trade?
Atlanta Braves get Edwin Jackson
Chicago Cubs get B.J. Upton and cash
The breakdown: both players have been terrible for their current teams. However, both players had track records of success before signing their new deals.
Prior to signing with the Chicago Cubs and being traded by nearly every team in the Major Leagues, Jackson started his career in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization at the ripe age of 19. Between his major league numbers and minor league numbers at 19, his stock soared as he was deemed the #4 prospect in all of baseball prior to the 2004 season. From there, Jackson has spent the rest of his career either re-building his value or taking a sledgehammer to his career brick by brick.
Let’s analyze this a bit and decide if this is a workable deal for the Atlanta Braves
1. Took the league by storm in 2003 as a 19 year old, pitching 4 games, 3 games started, with a 2.45 ERA. Dodgers just knew they had an ace in the making. Stock soaring!
2. Spent the next 2 seasons between the Minors and Majors pitching to a combined 5+ ERA between AAA and MLB, K-rate plummeting. Stock down.
3. Traded to the Rays in 2006 as the Dodgers were making a playoff push and could no longer wait for Jackson to develop (still only 22 at the time). Jackson pitched between AAA and MLB the next 2 years where his results were much of the same. Stock sinking into the abyss.
4. In 2008, Jackson stuck in the Majors where he had his best year since the beginning of his career, pitching to a 4.42 ERA in 31 games started. Numbers suggest he was very lucky to have that low of an ERA (if that can even be described as “low”). Stock up.
5. Prior to the 2009 season, in classic Rays form the team decided to sell high on Jackson and traded him to the Detroit Tigers for Matt Joyce. The trade worked out well for both clubs, but the immediate impact was in favor of the Tigers as Jackson pitched 214 innings of 3.62 ERA baseball and earned his first, and only, All Star bid. Stock soaring again!
6. The Tigers sold high on Jackson, trading him to the Diamondbacks in a 3-way trade that sent Curtis Granderson to the Yankees and brought back Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson, Daniel Schlereth, and Phil Coke. We all know who won that deal. Edwin Jackson spent about 1/2 of a season in Arizona pitching horribly (5.14 ERA). Stock down…again.
7. Mid-season, the Diamondbacks sold low on Jackson to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Daniel Hudson. Jackson rebounded for the “other” Sox and pitched well: 3.24 in 75 inning. However, Daniel Hudson was fantastic for the Diamondbacks for many years. Nonetheless, STOCK UP!
8. Jackson was pitching well for the White Sox, but was only a few short months away from becoming a free agent, so yes…traded again…twice! The Toronto Blue Jays picked up Jackson, only to flip him to the St. Louis Cardinal. The Cards picked up Jackson for the 2011 stretch in a controversial trade that sent Colby Rasmus and others to the Blue Jays. Jackson continued to pitch well for the Cards, starting 13 games with a 3.58 ERA. The Cardinals won the World Series and Jackson was entering free agency. Stock WAY UP!
9. Signs a 1-year11MM free agency deal in 2011 with the Washington Nationals in hopes that he can continue to build his stock and re-enter in a much less crowded starting pitcher market in 2012. He pitches well for the Nats and gets his wish. Stock still up!
10. Signs a 4 year/55MM deal with the Cubs. Since the deal, Jackson has pulled out that sledgehammer that he had stored away since his time with the Diamondbacks and I can now confidently say that the building has been completely demolished. 2014 marks the 2nd year of this contract and Jackson, currently on the DL, has pitched terrible…TERRIBLE baseball (current ERA sits at 6.04). Stock as low as it can go.
As one can see, Jackson is as unpredictable as they come. Many suggest that he’s a remarkable talent that has just never really put it all together. I’ll supply reasons why I’d like to see this trade happen:
1. Atlanta Braves track record- The Braves have a long history of fixing pitchers and Jackson is certainly in need of fixing. The Braves do not have that same track record with hitters.
2. Jackson’s peripherals compared to B.J.’s peripherals- Both FIP and xFIP suggest Jackson has been incredibly unlucky these past 2 years. With a better defense behind him, Jackson could pull a Harang-atang and swing his way back into relevance. There is not one single advanced metric out there that suggests B.J.’s unlucky, or likely to improve. Not one, offensively or defensively.
3. The money- Yes, the Braves will have to put in some money to offset the cost, however the money will likely still favor the Braves as B.J. is owed 46.35 MM and Jackson only 22. Even in the Braves send 10 MM the Cubs way, it saves money over the life of the contract.
4. Opening a space to keep all of Jose Peraza, Tommy La Stella, and Philip Gosselin. I don’t like the idea of trading any of these guys and trading B.J. would open a spot for a CF, of which I think the Braves might give Peraza the chance to take. We will see this off-season if the Braves try to get some reps for Peraza in CF come the Winter Leagues.
So, what do you all think? If the Braves could make this happen this offseason and the money is close to what is suggested above, would you take it?