Rounding Third: Braves get their man
By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Perhaps the National Football League doesn't have the brothers' storyline cornered after all.
In keeping with what should be the theme of the sports world over the next few weeks, the Atlanta Braves reunited a pair of brothers on Thursday, as they agreed to acquire outfielder Justin Upton from the Arizona Diamondbacks, pairing him with his brother, B.J., who signed with the team earlier this offseason.
The reported seven-player deal, which likely won't be finalized until early next week, has the Braves sending Martin Prado, shortstop prospect Nick Ahmed, infielder Brandon Drury and right-handed pitchers Randall Delgado and Zeke Spruill to Arizona for the two-time All-Star Upton as well as infielder Chris Johnson.
At first glance, you have to love this trade for Atlanta. Actually, at any glance you have to love this deal for the Braves, who now possess arguably the best outfield in baseball with the Upton brothers and Jayson Heyward, or as one clever person already referred to the group "Up, Up and Hey."
The Washington Nationals and manager Davey Johnson have stated that it is a World Series or bust for them this season. They won 98 games last year and should be better this year with a full season of Stephen Strasburg, the continued growth of Byrce Harper, as well as the additions of Denard Span, Dan Haren and Rafael Soriano.
Atlanta needed to do something to keep pace. To keep up with the Jones, they essentially had to add the Uptons.
In Justin Upton, the Braves get a player who has hit .278 with 108 home runs and a .832 OPS since making his major league debut during the 2007 season. The 25-year-old outfielder was one of the game's top outfielders as he hit .289 with 31 homers and a .898 OPS in 2011 with the D-backs. A thumb injury this past season, though, limited him, as he hit .280 with 17 homers and a .785 OPS.
Plus, he gives Atlanta the middle-of-the-order bat that the team has lacked for some time now. And he's also under team control for the next three years at a very reasonable $38 million.
If there is a downside to the deal, it is that the Braves had to include Prado. But if including him was the trade off for the Braves in allowing them to keep their top pitching prospect Julio Teheran, who projects to be a No. 1 or 2 starter, out of it, then the deal has to be made.
Losing Prado will hurt, but you have to give to get in this league. Upton has the ability to be a top-three outfielder in this league. Prado is a nice bat at best. And a singles hitter at that. Who knows what Upton's production will be with Heyward batting in front of him, his brother, a healthy Brian McCann and power hitter Freddie Freeman behind him.
And Prado is a free agent at the end of this coming season.
Delgado was the Braves' third-best pitching prospect at best and has nowhere near the upside of Teheran.
The move was a no-brainer for Atlanta.
And by the same token, it was a no-brainer for Arizona. As good of a deal as it was for the Braves, it may turn out to be just as good for the Diamondbacks, who were thought to have lost all their leverage once Upton rejected a potential trade to Seattle.
There was no way the Diamondbacks could have gone into spring training with this nonsense hanging over the team. And more moves are likely to come, as the team still has a glut in the outfield after signing Cody Ross.
Whether or not the Braves have done enough to compete with Washington remains to be seen, but they are certainly in a better position to do so today then they were yesterday.
01/24 12:16:02 ET