Three Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Braves Trade Packages for Justin Upton and His Former D-backs

Here is what I thought the D-backs could get from four teams for Justin Upton on Dec. 3.

Here is what the D-backs actually got from one team, the Braves, for Upton on Jan. 24.

Scout-turned-scribe Keith Law of ESPN.com wrote this of the trade today: “Arizona’s return boils down to this: One year of Martin Prado, six years of a fifth starter in Randall Delgado, two fringy prospects and one non-prospect. If that sounds like a good deal to you, I have some beachfront property in Phoenix to sell you.” An ESPN baseball editor by the name of Matt Meyers then Tweeted: “In anticipation of Willie Bloomquist’s eventually [sic] retirement, the D-backs have acquired Nick Ahmed, his minor league equivalent.”

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Of all the expert opinions you may see today on this seven-player, yet-to-be-official trade, I think those two are the most illuminating. The D-backs just didn’t get very good ballplayers (even if you think the world of Prado, who is signed only through 2013). In addition to Ahmed, Arizona also received right-handed starter Zeke Spruill (a No. 4 or 5 starter) and first baseman Brandon Drury (the aforementioned “non-prospect”). It’s very likely that none of the three will be impactful, everyday big leaguers, in my education opinion.

That explains why I’ll quickly propose three woulda-coulda-shoulda ARI-to-ATL proposals. Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter what you think.

Proposal One: Upton and shortstop Cliff Pennington for shortstop Andrelton Simmons, third baseman Martin Prado, starting pitcher J.R. Graham and infielder Joe Terdoslavich.

Analysis: If you’re going to trade a star like Upton, you SHOULD acquire a potential star like Simmons. And Graham (or the further-away Lucas Sims) is a better prospect than Spruill, and Terdoslavich, who can play first or third base, can do something Ahmed can’t: develop into a very good hitter.

Teheran would have been a good get (Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com).

Teheran would have been a good get (Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com).

Proposal Two: Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson for starter Julio Teheran, Prado, Graham and Spruill as well as Terdoslavich.

Analysis: OK, if Simmons was truly untouchable in Atlanta’s mind, the centerpiece of the deal COULD have been Teheran, who despite his Triple-A struggles, will end up being a better starter than Delgado.

Proposal Three: Upton and Johnson for Delgado, Prado, catcher Christian Bethancourt, Graham and Terdoslavich.

Analysis: OK, if Simmons and Teheran were both off the table, I would recommend walking away from said table. The D-backs, however, backed themselves into a corner, and therefore WOULD have insisted on the inclusion of Betancourt, an outstanding defensive catching prospect.

1 Comment

FIRST!!!!

Now that all other POTENTIAL “Firsters” can SEE how much cooler and better I am than them … take a moment to let it sink in ………………………………..

Okay, now that you’ve accepted my superiority and epic speed/skill at being the FIRST to comment, I wanted to touch on this article for a moment. Here goes …

While I certainly agree with your main argument (AZ got hosed) and believe the D-Backs could have pushed for more from Atlanta … I do disagree strongly with one thing you said in particular regarding Martin Prado.

Your claim that he’s “not a good ballplayer” is ridiculous at best. Prado IS a good ballplayer, no question. Many teams have been trying to pry him from Atlanta for years now. Baltimore tried to do a straight swap last season, actually. Adam Jones for Martin Prado; straight up. Atlanta declined.

Now, I’m sure you might be thinking “A team can place any value they want on a player, but that doesn’t mean it’s logical or they’ll get what they want.” This is true, for sure. However, Prado is a special talent. Not blessed with any single spectacular, standout skill .. Prado went from being seen as a generic, dime a dozen AAAA “prospect” with a ceiling of spot starter at 2B/3B and pinch hitter at best .. to a top “super-utility” guy .. to what one COULD call a “super-STARTER” .. if you don’t mind me making up my own term there.

Prado not only played every infield position last season (and played them WELL) but he has consistently been THE most VALUABLE position player on the Braves since 2009. There’s no doubt in MY mind (or anyone who follows the game as a WHOLE religiously) that he’s actually one of the most valuable and underrated guys in the NL. Now, I’m not saying that this was a good trade for Arizona. Prado is NOT the player that J-Up is. He’s no mediocre talent either, though.

If you were waiting for me to back up my words with statistical proof, your wait is over!

Let’s just jump right into the big boy stuff, shall we? Not gonna compare batting averages or any of that nonsense. Since becoming a regular in 2008, Justin Upton has compiled a respectable 13.7 WAR in 688 games. Martin Prado? In that same timeframe, Martin has played in 631 games. Despite appearing in 57 LESS bouts than Justin, PRADO has compiled an IMPRESSIVE 16.4 WAR. That’s actually telling.

Furthermore, one of the MAIN griped I’ve always heard about Justin is the fact that he has consistently DOMINATED at home in AZ while failing on the road .. and another gripe is his lack of consistency in “clutch” situations. Both of these are true, according to the stats. Upton’s .250 career ROAD batting average and his .255 average w/RISP have been irritating D-Backs faithful since he arrived on the scene. Now, I’m not saying he’s not a VERY talented player. I’m just .. making a case for Prado. SPEAKING of Martin … he’s been VERY consistent no matter where he plays. At Turner Field, he’s hit .309 in his career while hitting at a .283 clip elsewhere. As for RISP, he’s hacking at a .287 clip overall. Going even deeper, with RUNNERS ON 2nd & 3rd? Upton hits .257 in this key situation on average. Prado? He hits .347 in this spot WITH a .975 OPS .. whereas Upton’s OPS here is .730

IN conclusion .. While there’s NO QUESTION that Justin Upton has FAR more potential than Martin Prado. Justin has shown what he’s capable of, and I feel as if ATL STOLE Upton and Johnson overall. Still, to assume Prado is some scrub who does not deserve to even be named in the same sentence as Prado is ridiculously narrow. Prado at his best would absolutely look insignificant in comparison to J Up at his potential best if compared side by site. The thing is we really haven’t seen Justin at his best yet. It would certainly be nice to see what he AND his brother BJ are capable of doing if they both peaked at the same time and just kept on running.as teammates. However, my point? At this point in their two separate careers … Martin Prado has been the more consistent and OVERALL valuable player overall. As I said at the very beginning, the guy doesn’t just STAND OUT in any one particular statistical category. He does however do GOOD in almost EVERY category and VERY good in others, though.

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