D-backs, Braves agree to multiplayer Upton trade
By Steve Gilbert /01/24/2013 1:04 PM ET
PHOENIX -- The Justin Upton era in Arizona is over.
The Braves and D-backs agreed Thursday on a trade that will send Upton to Atlanta as part of a multiplayer swap.
The trade will include third baseman Chris Johnson going to Atlanta and five players -- pitchers Randall Delgado and Zeke Spruill, infielder-outfielder Martin Prado, shortstop Nick Ahmed and first baseman Brandon Drury -- going to Arizona.
With Upton now traded, the D-backs figure to hang onto outfielder Jason Kubel. It appears the D-backs will play Prado primarily at third base, with Kubel, Adam Eaton, Gerardo Parra and Cody Ross dividing up time in the outfield.
Prado will be eligible for free agency following the 2013 season, but the D-backs are likely to look into an extension at some point. Last season, Prado had a slash line of .301/.359/.438 in 690 plate appearances for the Braves. He ranked 10th in the National League in WAR (wins above replacement) among position players with a 5.4 mark.
Delgado, 22, was 4-9 with a 4.37 ERA in 18 games (17 starts) for the Braves in 2012. He also made eight starts with Triple-A Gwinnett, going 4-3 with a 4.06 ERA. In 25 games (24 starts) for the Braves over the past two seasons, Delgado is 5-10 with a 3.95 ERA.
Ahmed, 22, was ranked as the 10th-best prospect in the Braves' system by MLB.com. He was named to both the Carolina League midseason and postseason All-Star teams in 2012, hitting .269 with 36 doubles, four triples, six homers, 49 RBIs and 40 stolen bases in 130 games at Class A Lynchburg.
The D-backs got a good look at Ahmed, who is known as an above-average defender at shortstop, in the 2012 Arizona Fall League, where the former second-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft participated in the league’s Rising Stars Game.
Spruill, 23, was ranked as Atlanta’s sixth-best prospect by MLB.com. He was 9-11 with a 3.67 ERA in 27 starts for Double-A Mississippi last season and was named to the Southern League midseason All-Star Team. The right-hander was the Braves’ second-round pick in the 2008 Draft.
Drury, 20, was ranked as Atlanta’s 13th-best prospect by MLB.com. He hit .229 with 22 doubles, three triples, six homers and 51 RBIs in 123 games for Class A Rome in 2012.
Upton was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 Draft and had been in the big leagues since August 2007.
When Kevin Towers took over as Arizona’s general manager in September 2010, he surprised the industry by listening to trade offers for Upton.
The trade talks went away seemingly for good after Upton hit .289 with 31 homers and 88 RBIs as the D-backs won the NL West in 2011.
However, the team took a step backwards in 2012, as did Upton’s production at the plate, and in July his name once again popped up in trade rumors.
Those rumors persisted throughout the rest of the season and offseason. The D-backs reached agreement with the Mariners on a deal involving Upton two weeks ago, only to have him invoke a limited no-trade clause and scuttle the deal.
Atlanta was thought to be a desirable destination for Upton given that his brother, B.J., was signed to a five-year, $75.25 million deal by the Braves earlier this offseason.
The D-backs and Braves did not seem to match up for a trade earlier this offseason, when Arizona said it would not do a prospect-laden deal for Upton and was looking for a starting shortstop in return. Atlanta was not willing to part with Andrelton Simmons, and it appeared talks went nowhere.
Since then, though, the D-backs acquired a young shortstop in Didi Gregorius from the Reds and appeared open to doing a deal centered around prospects.