The Braves have reached a preliminary agreement to acquire Justin Upton from the D-backs in exchange for five players, including Martin Prado.
According to a Major League source, the Braves will get Upton and Chris Johnson in exchange for Prado, shortstop prospect Nick Ahmed, Class A infielder Brandon Drury and right-handed pitchers Randall Delgado and Zeke Spruill. The deal is pending the completion of physicals.
With this trade, Braves general manager Frank Wren provides his club arguably the game’s best outfield. Earlier in the offseason, Wren signed Justin Upton’s older brother, B.J. Upton. Atlanta's projected outfield over at least the next three seasons will consist of Jason Heyward and the two Upton brothers.
The Braves now have a new-look outfield that will also feature B.J. Upton and Justin Upton. Justin signed with Atlanta as a free agent earlier in the off-season, agreeing to a five-year, $75.2MM contract. GM Frank Wren added balance to what had previously been a lefty-heavy lineup by acquiring the right-handed hitting Upton brothers.
Upton, the first overall selection of the 2005 draft, followed up a breakout 2011 season with a solid but unspectacular 2012 campaign. The 25-year-old hit 17 home runs and posted a .280/.355/.430 batting line in 628 plate appearances last year, his sixth season at the MLB level.
There are now three years and $38.5MM remaining on Upton's contract, including a $9.75MM salary in 2013. The contract includes a no-trade list which allows him to block trades to the Red Sox, Cubs, Blue Jays and Mariners. He exercised his no-trade rights earlier in the winter, blocking a proposed trade that would have sent him to Seattle.
To complete this trade, Wren had to part ways with Prado, who is one of the Braves’ most popular players among his teammates and the fans. But he was able to acquire Upton without giving up either of his top two pitching prospects, Julio Teheran or J.R. Graham.
Johnson hit a career-best 15 home runs last year while playing for the Astros and Diamondbacks. The 28-year-old posted a .281/.326/.451 batting line in 528 plate appearances in 2012. He'll earn $2.875MM in 2013 and will remain under team control as an arbitration eligible player through 2016.
As a consequence of the trade, Johnson and Juan Francisco project as Atlanta's primary third basemen. The Braves may use the pair in a platoon at third.
------ Source: MLB.com
Randall Delgado pitching for the Mississippi Braves at AT&T Field in May, 2011.
- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt