B.J. Upton. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The B.J. Upton Trade That Wasn’t Revisited

B.J. Upton’s stay in Atlanta has been without exception a disaster. The crescendo to trade him grew steadily over this season and shortly after the deadline we learned a deal was close but never materialized.  Over time more information surfaced and today the most definitive clues so far came to light indicating that  B.J. might need to sell his Atlanta home sooner than he expected.


The Rumor

As I wrote two weeks ago and Ken Rosenthal originally reported, before the deadline the Braves were working on a deal to trade one of the worst hitters in baseball (B.J. Upton) for one of the worst starting pitchers in the game today (Edwin Jackson). Rosenthal suggested that it would have been Upton and a pitcher – he suggested Ervin Santana or Mike Minor – for Jackson. I never thought Santana made sense for either side. A free agent after this season Santana would be virtually worthless to the Cubs who wouldn’t be able to make a qualifying offer and would then eat the Upton contract completely. For the Braves who gave up a draft pick to get Santana, not getting one back in the next draft would made it a lose, lose, lose proposition. The pitcher involved had to be Minor.

Shortly after my post and before confirmation of Minor as a piece in the trade, Alan contemplated various other bad contracts that might be involved. None however made as much sense as the Cubs. The subject died down but the roar for BJ to depart continued to grow.

Three days ago Bob Nightengale of the USA Today confirmed reports  that the Braves had been in talks but called it off because they weren’t getting enough value in return.  To me that meant the Braves said.  “we’ll take Jackson and his contract if you’ll take either Upton and his contract plus Minor with three years of control OR take Upton and half his contract.”  I’m sure it wasn’t that simply put but that was my evaluation based on what was known.

More trade details

Today David O’Brien the AJC’s Braves beat reporter helped fill in some of the blank spaces.

What I’m told is this: The Braves would never have agreed to pay a ton of what Upton is still owed PLUS sent a good pitcher to the Cubs in the deal. They might have done one or the other, but not both.

Thanks David. He went on to  say that he felt a trade this winter was a “fait accompli” and would likely be gone by spring training. Frankly I’ll be surprised if he makes Thanksgiving in Atlanta.

Any such deal would mean adding a bad contract but with a bad pitching contract there’s always hope that Roger McDowell might be able to get something out of a guy like Jackson.

Jackson, who will turn 31 next month.  is durable, throwing 200 or so innings every year.  He has good stuff consistently clocking in the mid 90s with both his sinker and 4 seam fastball but he rarely knows where it’s going.

In June of 2010 Jackson threw a no hitter. It took him 149 pitches and he walked eight while striking out only six to beat the Rays 1-0. McDowell is noted for work in two particular areas; improving a sinker and being able to help pitchers locate the ball.


While Minor was almost certainly the pitcher involved this summer that may change this winter. In any event the O’Brien confirms that the Braves would want a good – not a top level guy but a B level –prospect as well.The Cubs have plenty of everyday players so that shouldn’t be a problem if they remain the trade partner. Whatever the details are it’s clear BJ’s days behind the Tomahawk will likely end after this season.

That’s A Wrap

The good news from this is that BJ will be gone. The bad news is we’re in for a tumultuous off season in the trade and free agent market. In the linked piece O’Brien suggest that that Evan Gattis might well be moved. I am sure he will be shopped to make room for Bethancourt. Gattis has only one position and he’s just average at it but on an AL club he could be a big threat every day.

There will be more trades and some the fans don’t favor but the Braves need to get rid of strikeouts and solidify their defense. That will mean moving pieces many don’t expect. We can only hope those trades are good ones. We already know that nny trade of BJ will be a good one for the Braves.

Tags: Atlanta Braves Trade Rumors

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