Braves, Diamondbacks complete deal involving Justin Upton, Martin Prado

After hearing yesterday that the two teams were nearing a deal, the Braves and Diamondbacks completed their trade sending outfielder Justin Upton to Atlanta. Along with Upton, the Braves acquire third baseman Chris Johnson, and they send a package of five players to the desert, highlighted by third baseman Martin Prado. Also heading to the Diamondbacks are starting pitchers Randall Delgado and Zeke Spruill, infielder Nick Ahmed, and first baseman Brandon Drury.

In Upton, the Braves acquire a five tool player with a six win ceiling signed for the next three years. Their outfield is set for the next three years with Upton, his brother BJ, and Jason Heyward, potentially the most talented in the league. While trading Prado does create a hole at third base, the Braves already had one hole on the team with Prado around, and he was hitting the free agency market this winter. After the Braves attempted to sign Prado to a long-term extension and he demanded $10 to $12 million per season, I think that sealed his fate with the Braves. The Diamondbacks fill their gaping hole at third base with Prado, but perhaps only for a season.

As for the four prospects heading to Arizona in the trade, the return is a little underwhelming. They were not able to pry Julio Teheran, Sean Gilmartin, or JR Graham from the Braves, three of Atlanta's top four pitching prospects (though Delgado was third last year before exhausting his rookie eligibility in the majors in 2012). Delgado has struggled in stints in the majors, pitching to a 3.95 ERA in 127 2/3 innings, striking out 94 and walking 56. However, he'll be just 23 in a couple of weeks, and is still immensely talented. He's still never had a full season in AAA, and I'd imagine that's where the Diamondbacks will start him in 2013.

The 22-year old Spruill, a second round pick in 2008, spent 2012 in AA Mississippi, and had a 3.63 ERA in 163 2/3 innings before adding another 22 1/3 innings in the AFL. He's a groundball pitcher who profiles as a back-end innings eater, but could be a solid #3 in the right rotation. Ahmed, a second round pick in 2011, is almost a poor man's Andrelton Simmons at shortstop, showing solid range and a great arm, but has a bit of a confused approach at the plate. He struck out a lot with gap power in high-A Lynchburg in 2012, but is a monster on the basepaths, stealing 40 bases in 50 attempts. The 20-year old Drury's stock took a huge hit in 2012 after being named the Appalachian League player of the year in 2011. Drury spent the year in class A Rome, and posted just a .603 OPS for the season, homering only six times and walking in just 4.2% of his plate appearances.

Atlanta has gone all-in on 2013 by trading for Upton, and despite trading Prado in the deal, they're a better team in both the short and long-term. While the Braves still don't have a definitive answer at third base for this season (though it appears a platoon of the newly-acquired Johnson and Juan Francisco is in the cards), Prado was likely going to be leaving next winter anyway, and the Braves would then have to fill holes in both left field and third base after the 2013 season. Now, the Braves will just have to worry about third base, which isn't as daunting a task with Upton on the roster.

The Diamondbacks received a package in return for Upton that pales in comparison to the ceiling of the one they were going to get from the Mariners, but helps them more immediately. However, if Prado does leave Arizona as a free agent next winter, this deal will go down as a failure for Kevin Towers and company in Phoenix. I'm not sure if the pair of pitchers the Diamondbacks acquired can even crack the team's top seven or eight starting pitchers over the next two years, and it really is looking like the trade is hinging around Prado signing an extension with Arizona.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.