July 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Buster Olney tweeted a suggestion of Justin Upton to the Braves, starting with a package of Martin Prado and pitching. Keep in mind, this is only a suggestion and not an actual rumor.
The entire baseball community has been licking its chops and dreaming of having Upton in its lineup, and the Braves would certainly benefit from having a talent like that in the middle of the order, but the reality is trading the farm for Upton doesn’t solve the Braves’ problems. Maybe a year ago, but things change.
The Diamondbacks hinted that they would want quality major leaguers in return, as they are trying to win now, so a package starting with Prado and filling out with prospects may not be what they are looking for (if they are even trying to trade him in the first place). And yes, as Buster said in a follow-up tweet, Upton’s control would benefit the Braves in replacing Michael Bourn, but the Braves are attempting to win this year, and adding Upton to what is already the best outfield in baseball may not get them over the hump. If the Braves are serious about a playoff run, as they should be, the team’s resources need to go toward pitching.
And while Upton replacing Bourn would fill one hole, trading Prado would create arguably an even bigger one at third base. Prado should be considered the favorite to take over Chipper Jones’ spot after the season, but dealing him for an outfielder would leave a large hole at third. With no internal replacement, the Braves would be forced into another deal or sign a free agent. The top free agent third baseman this offseason could be Kevin Youkilis, with David Wright and Placido Polanco having options.
Upton is having a down year at .324 wOBA and .128 ISO, worth 1.2 wins, according to FanGraphs. At 24 years old, you certainly expect him to rebound, and I expect Upton to become one of the best talents in the game. So yes, consider me crazy for wanting to turn him down, and the Braves will probably wish they had him in the coming years. But, to me, it comes down to gambling with what the Braves have right now down the stretch for Upton’s future.
So does it make sense to trade Prado’s surplus value at third base for Upton’s future? If there was ever a talent worth gambling a year of contention for, it would be Upton. But I don’t see it happening because it solves nothing right now, and actually solves little next year.