Optimism is officially abound in Atlanta … again.
Big rumors became big breaking news on Thursday morning when the Atlanta Braves agreed to trade Martin Prado and a slew of young talent to the Arizona Diamondbacks for outfielder Justin Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson. Upton will join his brother, B.J., who the Braves signed earlier in the offseason, and right fielder Jason Heyward to form an outfield in Atlanta that will have enormous potential and a huge amount of talent.
At just 25 years old, Justin Upton is one of the rising stars in Major League Baseball. In five full seasons, he has been named to the National League All-Star team twice, collected a Silver Slugger award and finished fourth in the MVP voting in 2011 — one spot ahead of Albert Pujols.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, Justin Upton played 150 games last season, batting .280 with 17 home runs and 67 RBI. He stole 18 bases, and his speed will truly be on display in left field, just as much as his brother’s speed in center field and Heyward’s in right. The trio combined to steal 70 bases in 2012.
While Upton is a huge signing for the Braves, and Johnson will be a worthy fill-in for Chipper Jones at third base (.286 batting average, 7 HR, 35 RBI in 2012), we knew they’d have to give up quite a bit in return. However, when I heard they would be parting ways with utility stud and local favorite Martin Prado, my initial reaction was similar to this:
And sure, it’s going to hurt to lose someone who can play nearly every position on the field and deliver at the top of the lineup. But when you think about it, the Braves made these deals in the offseason to take a chance on improving the roster instead of staying with the same bunch.
A bunch that couldn’t get into the real, eight-team playoff field.
Gone are the days of having an equal chance as the other teams if you win the Wild Card — now, you have to win a one-game playoff just to get into the postseason. Last October, we all saw how tough that can be. This year, they’re trying to reclaim the division crown so they don’t have to put their entire season on one game, and if the Upton brothers pay off, they’ll have a better chance to skip the Wild Card game.
**Also, Upton is signed for multiple years, and Prado was about to start the final year of his contract. There were worries he wouldn’t re-sign, so the Braves get peace of mind with Justin Upton.**
I’ll let social media tell the rest of the story, and you can see how people reacted in the minutes and hours after they found out about the deal. I believe the Braves got great value out of today’s trade, and I simply can’t wait to go to Turner Field and watch this outfield perform every night.
Justin Upton’s .293 BA at Turner Field is his 2nd highest at any ballpark, minimum 10 games (highest is Chase Field).
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 24, 2013
@kyle_tait left top 5 prospects untouched. Hardest part for Braves fans is to get past sentimental part as far as love for Prado
— Andrew Hostetter (@bravesman218) January 24, 2013
The Braves now have 6 of top 60 in MLB in strikeouts from 2012: Upton, Uggla, Heyward, Johnson, Freeman, Upton
— Kyle Tait (@kyle_tait) January 24, 2013
Kirk Gibson was a huge voice in the Upton, Bauer deals, sources say. Wants certain type of clubhouse culture. Prado, a grinder, embodies it.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 24, 2013
— BJ Upton (@BJUPTON2) January 24, 2013