Justin Upton

Padres acquire Justin Upton from Braves

After weeks of posturing, the Atlanta Braves have *finally* traded outfielder Justin Upton. His new club? The San Diego Padres, of course.

The 27-year old Upton joins a completely revamped Padres outfield, and will play alongside Wil Myers and Matt Kemp at Petco Park. In 2014, Upton hit .270/.342/.491 with 29 homers, his second straight above average campaign with the Braves. His 29 homers were tied for fourth in the National League, and he won his second NL Silver Slugger award. Upton will make $14.5 million in 2015, and is eligible for free agency after the season.

The package of players that the Padres are dealing could best be described as “interesting”. 20-year old pitcher Max Fried is the big piece of the return, and was a top three/five prospect in San Diego’s organization coming into the season. But 2014 was a lost year for him, as he tossed just 10 2/3 innings on the season and underwent Tommy John surgery near the end of August. What’s that mean? Well, Fried likely won’t throw a pitch for the Braves organization in 2015 while recovering from the surgery, tacking another “lost year” onto his ledger.

24-year old Jace Peterson could be Atlanta’s Opening Day second baseman, but he struggled in 27 games in the majors with the Padres this past season. In 58 plate appearances, he hit just .113/.161/.113. It’s obviously a small sample, so don’t put a lot of weight into it. With AAA Tucson in 2014, Peterson hit .306/.406/.464 with two homers and 12 stolen bases. 20-year old Dustin Peterson was a second-round pick by the Padres in 2013, and struggled in 2014, his first full year in pro ball. Playing for class-A Fort Wayne, he hit .233/.274/.361 with ten homers in 126 games. Finally, Mallex Smith split the year between Fort Wayne and high-A Lake Elsinore, combining to hit .310/.403/.432 with 88 stolen bases (!!!!) on the season.

In case you were buying John Hart’s spiel about the Braves “aiming to compete” in 2015, or whatever his exact phrasing was, you can go ahead and file it under the “executive speak” column. The only player the Braves got back in the deal that might contribute in the majors in 2015 is Jace Peterson. Dustin Peterson and Smith are both clearly projects, and Fried’s future is a question mark following his Tommy John this summer. The Braves might be the worst team in the NL East in 2015, depending on what the hell happens with the Phillies’ rebuild.

As for the Padres, this trade is a coup for them, even if Upton is only a rental. They’ll get a draft pick when he declines their qualifying offer and signs somewhere else next winter. They kept Hunter Renfroe, Matt Wisler, and Austin Hedges all in the fold, despite acquiring three pretty damn good outfielders. I don’t think they’ll be able to dethrone the Dodgers at the top of the NL West, but San Diego could still make a run at a playoff spot, especially if Matt Kemp remains healthy.

About Joe Lucia

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