Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thoughts on the Braves acquiring Justin Upton...

I’ll start off by saying that Martin Prado was one of my favorite players and I’m really sad to see him traded.

(Ralph Freso/Getty Images North America)

Now, if I get the fan side of things out of the way….

Martin Prado is a great player, but the Braves did him a disservice when they moved him from second base. He was an above average second baseman, but his offensive game didn’t translate well to third base or LF, but he still fit the Braves well and his mix of contact and defense worked great for a #2 hitter. He was a great leader and he impacted the game on the field and off the field, but the reasons for trading him go beyond what most people see on paper.

Justin Upton signed a team friendly deal to stay in Arizona and he’s still under contract until 2015. Martin Prado is entering his last arbitration eligible year and will be a free agent after the season. The DBacks are working on an extension with Prado, but he will be earning more money than what Justin Upton is currently making and the Braves budget probably wouldn’t allow them to sign him long term.

So, enter Justin Upton. He’s under contract until 2015 and is making $9.75M next season and just over $14M in 2014 and 2015. The most important thing about his contract is that he’ll only be 27 years old at the end of his contract… Martin Prado is entering his age 29 season and will demand a large payday after this season. When you take in account the ages and salary, getting Justin Upton at this price is a great deal by Frank Wren and the Braves.
Let’s compare the stats:

Player A: .301/.359/.438 .796 OPS 114 OPS+
Player B: .280/.355/.430 .785 OPS 107 OPS+

When you compare the stats last year, both players had similar years. The only difference is that last year was a “down” year for Justin Upton and Martin Prado had one of the best seasons of his career. So, even when Justin Upton is injured and having a “bad” season, he’s still playing at the level of Martin Prado.
When healthy, Justin Upton has been a player to average .295/.368/.531 .900 OPS 135 OPS+
So, when he’s healthy and playing up to his potential, Justin Upton is one of the best offensive players in all of baseball. His down years are more like the better seasons from Martin Prado.

You also have to take into account that Justin Upton is only 24 years old… With Jason Heyward (23 years old), Freddie Freeman (23 years old), Andrelton Simmons (23 years old), and B.J. Upton (28 years). The Braves have some of the best young talent in all of baseball.

In closing, I will always be a fan of Martin Prado and all he did for the Braves. I just can’t see how this is a bad move on the Braves part though. When you take into account the age, money, and potential, the Braves did very well for themselves. That’s not even including getting Chris Johnson, who is a pretty solid Major League player. I like the deal for the Braves, but I’ll miss Martin Prado. I’m also happy for the prospects the Braves traded because they’ll finally get a legitimate chance with the DBacks.

Thanks for reading.