Diamondbacks “Settle” on a Trade for Upton
The Arizona Diamondbacks just couldn’t help themselves. They just had to get rid of 25-year-old right fielder Justin Upton this offseason, and they finally found the right deal, which appeared to be any deal when the sent the potential MVP-candidate to Atlanta, with third baseman Chris Johnson, for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury, and Zeke Spruill on Thursday afternoon.
Upton, a two-time All-Star who finished 4th in NL MVP voting in 2011, is due $38.5 million between 2013 and 2015 before he reaches free agency. Considering the Diamondbacks thought that Cody Ross was worth $9.5 million per season from 2014 through 2016 (when he’ll turn 35), it seems completely unreasonable that the team felt that Upton wasn’t worth $12.8 million per season over the next three years before he turns 27 and can cash in again. Ross had a fine 2012 season, but is the potential that Upton brings not worth the extra $3.3 million that they would have paid Upton per season, had they not signed Ross to join an already-crowded outfield?
While B.J. Upton has been quite unpredictable when it comes to his consistency, he was still worth a five-year, $75.25 million deal this winter. It just seems unreasonable for the Diamondbacks to have rid themselves of the talented, young slugger, given his 108 home runs, 80 stolen bases, and .832 OPS in his six seasons, Kirk Gibson, the Diamondbacks’ manager, or Kevin Towers, their General Manager, must have had some personal belief that Upton wasn’t going to improve.
Maybe someone in Arizona should read what Keith Law thinks of Upton’s 2012 season:
Upton has some of the best bat speed and the strongest wrists in the game, generating hard contact and easy power, similar to Andrew McCutchen when he’s squaring up the ball consistently. In 2012, Upton’s timing was off for much of the year, and he was popping up a lot of pitches on the inner half that, the year before, he would have driven to the left-center gap or out of the park. Much of this probably was tied to a thumb injury he suffered in the third game of the season but never addressed with time off. Hand injuries of any sort tend to sap power by reducing a hitter’s ability to make hard contact, and that was a major issue for Upton all year.
Martin Prado is a solid major-leaguer, one of the better contact hitters in all of MLB, but he certainly shouldn’t have been a centerpiece to a Justin Upton trade. Randall Delgado, who turns 23 in February, has a solid 3.95 ERA over 127.2 innings and he has the potential to become a solid No.2 or No.3 starter for Arizona. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that the Diamondbacks will flip Nick Ahmed, with a pitching prospect, to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello. Spruill has back-end starter or long relief in his future, while Drury has struggled to make consistent contact and lacks plate discipline.
The package that the Diamondbacks received from Atlanta was a far cry from the offer that the Seattle Mariners supposedly made (Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush, and Stephen Pryor), but you can’t blame Arizona since Upton had the ability to veto the trade, and he did.
The Diamondbacks have made some interesting moves this winter, dumping Upton today and Trevor Bauer earlier this winter in their three-way deal with Cincinnati and Cleveland. Were these deals purging of players that weren’t willing to mold to the goals of management at the expense of acquiring equal talent in return? It certainly looks that way on paper.
Upton apparently needed a change of scenery and the Diamondbacks seemed to do whatever it took, even taking a lesser offer, to help make that happen. The team was forced to make the deal when they signed Cody Ross and as the season crept closer, Upton’s value and his potential suitors seemed to be dwindling. Unfortunately, this offer was probably the best that they could do, and it is another example of indecisiveness and a lack of direction for a team that appeared to have built a strong minor league system to match production at the major league level in recent seasons.