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Martin Prado Rumors
Justin Upton's future has been the source of great speculation all winter, and now that the Diamondbacks have moved the outfielder to Atlanta as the centerpiece of a seven-player deal, the move has already generated a lot of buzz from around the baseball world. Here are some reactions to the deal, some background, and how the Braves and D'Backs will be affected…
- Upton's "quiet intensity" may have been the key reason behind Arizona's eagerness to trade him, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. “The problem is that [Upton] didn’t play with a high level of energy,” a former Upton teammate told Rosenthal. “What I think they want is guys who play with the speed, energy and intensity of the Oregon football team — all out, all the time. Justin doesn’t have that kind of attitude….He plays hard, but has to look suave doing it. Slamming into walls isn’t his thing, and they will accept nothing short of all-out sacrifice for the team.”
- D'Backs GM Kevin Towers told reporters (including Yahoo's Jeff Passan and MLB.com's Steve Gilbert) that it's "accurate" that he and manager Kirk Gibson want a grinding-style of team since "that's the way Gibby played the game." Gibson, however, said that while he is "100 percent on board" with the move, he also lobbied to keep Upton.
- Had the Braves not been able to acquire Upton, they would have looked to re-sign Michael Bourn, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).
- Also from Nightengale, he hears from a rival scouting director that the addition of Nick Ahmed gives the D'Backs three of the top 15 shortstop prospects in the game. (Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings are the other two players.)
- Larry Reynolds, Upton's agent, talked to Towers following the season about a potential deal, MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reports. “We never demanded a trade, but there were discussions between Kevin Towers and myself about the possibility of trading Justin between the end of the season and the trade,” Reynolds said. “I have a good relationship with K.T., so those discussions were amicable.”
- Both teams did well in the trade, opines Fangraphs' Dave Cameron.
- MLB.com's Matthew Leach and ESPN's Keith Law both think the deal is a win for the Braves. Leach praises the Braves for getting Upton without losing any hard-to-replace prospects, while Law criticizes the D'Backs for just getting "about 50 cents on the dollar" in return. In reference to the Trevor Bauer trade, Law writes that "for the second time this offseason, they've [Arizona] made such a deal and taken less than full value in return for a player the whole industry knew the team wanted to move."
- Seven team executives and scouts tell ESPN's Jayson Stark that there are some concerns about the Upton brothers' perceived attitude problems and how the Braves have lost an important clubhouse leader in Martin Prado. That said, six of the seven thought the deal was a great move for Atlanta since it gives them a potential superstar outfield between the Uptons and Jason Heyward. "If somebody had said three years ago that you could have those three guys in the same outfield, people would have been going nuts, right?" a scout said.
- Rival executives feel that the D'Backs "squandered a lot of value this winter" but look to be a good team in 2013, ESPN's Buster Olney reports. Prado is "a perfect fit" for Arizona both on and off the field (Twitter links).
- Upton and Braves GM Frank Wren discussed the trade in a conference call with reporters, including MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith.
Soon after the Braves signed B.J. Upton, the center fielder told team executives how much he’d enjoy playing with his brother Justin. B.J. might not have known as much at the time, but general manager Frank Wren was already a step ahead of him. Intrigued by the possibility of having both Upton brothers in their outfield, the Braves had begun discussing potential trades with the Diamondbacks in November. It ultimately took months of on-and-off trade talks for the seven-player deal to become a reality.
“It all fell in place for us where we had all of the ingredients to make it happen, and we’re very fortunate that it worked out,” Wren said on a conference call with reporters today.
Wren said the Braves front office is excited to add Upton, “a young, dynamic player that arguably gives us one of the best outfields in the game.” The 25-year-old will add right-handed power to the middle of the Braves’ batting order and patrol the outfield along with Jason Heyward and his older brother.
"It was a a dream of ours to play together,” Upton told reporters. “I didn't think it would happen this early.”
The pair last played together in high school, but they’ve continued exchanging tips and observations over the years as they’ve established themselves in the big leagues. Upton stressed that he’s looking to become a consistently strong player, suggesting that playing alongside his brother could lead to improved results on the field.
“I think we can really feed off of each other throughout that lineup to try to get everybody to a consistent production rate,” he explained.
Wren said he didn’t begin the offseason with the particular intention of adding both B.J. and Justin. The Braves had strong interest in both players, and now that they’re in place there’s an expectation that the brothers will indeed feed off of one another.
“I do think it’ll drive them,” Wren said. “I think it’ll push them. So I think there are a lot of positives to go around.”
The Braves and Diamondbacks discussed potential trades involving Upton in November and December, generating little traction at first. The teams considered many versions of the deal, going back and forth often leading up to the holidays. The rumors persisted — “there was a lot of chatter whether it was on Trade Rumors, or Twitter,” Wren noted — but discussions didn’t pick up until the last week or so, and the Braves didn’t think they had a good shot at completing the deal until this weekend.
Upton’s name has surfaced in trade rumors since the 2010-11 offseason, when Kevin Towers became Arizona’s GM. Trades and rumors are part of the business, as agent Larry Reynolds knows. That said, there’s a certain amount of relief now that a deal has been completed.
“When reality hits you get a little excited because it’s over first of all for Justin,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds, who represents both Uptons, went on to describe the brothers as competitive with “outstanding baseball acumen.” The Braves were far from the only team interested in Upton, which meant they had to part with some pieces they would have preferred to keep. While the Braves didn’t want to trade Martin Prado, the Diamondbacks pushed for his inclusion in the deal. Wren noted that Prado’s pending arbitration case wasn’t a factor in the move, and acknowledged that years of control figure in to any trade talks. Still, giving up Prado was difficult, even though he’s just a year away from free agency.
“I don’t think there’s any question that was the most difficult part of it,” Wren said. “We’re sad to see him go.”
Wren was quick to note that teams don’t obtain difference makers without giving up “something really good.” And as the Braves set out to retool their team for the post-Chipper Jones era, they wanted impact players. With both Upton brothers in place, the Braves have completed the bulk of their offseason work and will be viewed by many as a contender.
“Where we sit today in January we like our club a lot,” Wren said. “Now we’ve got to go perform.”
3:35pm: The Diamondbacks are "quite optimistic" about agreeing to a three or four-year deal with Prado soon, Nightengale reports (on Twitter). Such an agreement would buy out Prado's final season of arbitration eligibility and two or three free agent seasons.
2:43pm: GM Kevin Towers confirmed via the team's Twitter account that he has discussed a deal with Prado's representation. "He is looking for some security. Confident we can get a deal done," the team tweeted.
2:27pm: The Diamondbacks have already opened contract talks with Prado about a long-term extension, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (on Twitter).
11:16am: The Diamondbacks expect to sign Martin Prado to a long-term contract extension in the near future, Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com reports (on Twitter). Without the prospect of a long-term deal with Prado, the Diamondbacks wouldn't have completed the trade that sent Justin Upton and Chris Johnson to Atlanta for Prado and four others.
Prado is arbitration eligible for the third time this winter. He asked for $7.05MM with the Braves offering $6.65MM, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows. Prado, a client of The Legacy Agency, is now on track to hit free agency following the 2013 season. His asking price on a multiyear deal was $11-12MM per season, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported today (on Twitter). The 29-year-old posted a .301/.359/.438 batting line in 690 plate appearances in 2012 while playing five positions.
After years of trade talk, the Justin Upton rumors finally amounted to a deal. The Braves and Diamondbacks have officially agreed to a seven-player trade that will send Upton to Atlanta. The Braves obtain Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson for third baseman Martin Prado, right-hander Randall Delgado, shortstop prospect Nick Ahmed, right-handed pitching prospect Zeke Spruill and minor league first baseman Brandon Drury.
The Braves now have a new-look outfield that will also feature B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward. Justin's older brother signed with Atlanta as a free agent earlier in the offseason, agreeing to a five-year, $75.2MM contract. GM Frank Wren added balance to what had previously been a lefty-heavy lineup by acquiring the right-handed hitting Upton brothers.
Upton, the first overall selection of the 2005 draft, followed up a breakout 2011 season with a solid but unspectacular 2012 campaign. The 25-year-old hit 17 home runs and posted a .280/.355/.430 batting line in 628 plate appearances last year, his sixth season at the MLB level.
There are now three years and $38.5MM remaining on Upton's contract, including a $9.75MM salary in 2013. The contract includes a no-trade list which allows him to block trades to the Red Sox, Cubs, Blue Jays and Mariners. He exercised his no-trade rights earlier in the winter, blocking a proposed trade that would have sent him to Seattle.
Prado has provided the Braves with versatility on defense and steady offensive production in recent years. He posted a .301/.359/.438 batting line in 690 plate appearances in 2012 while playing five positions. Though Prado was Atlanta's primary left fielder, he played at least ten games at second base, shortstop and third base.
The 29-year-old is arbitration eligible for the third time this winter. He asked for $7.05MM with the Braves, a file and trial team, offering $6.65MM, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows. The Braves were willing to trade Prado once they learned that his asking price on a multiyear deal was $11-12MM, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter). Prado, a client of The Legacy Agency, remains on track to hit free agency following the 2013 season.
Johnson hit a career-best 15 home runs last year while playing for the Astros and Diamondbacks. The 28-year-old posted a .281/.326/.451 batting line in 528 plate appearances in 2012. He'll earn $2.875MM in 2013 and will remain under team control as an arbitration eligible player through 2016.
As a consequence of the trade, Johnson and Juan Francisco project as Atlanta's primary third basemen. The Braves plan to use the pair in a platoon at third, O'Brien reports (on Twitter). The trade will also take Atlanta out of the running for center fielder Michael Bourn and other free agent outfielders.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks still have considerable outfield depth. Cody Ross, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton provide Arizona manager Kirk Gibson with various options, even without Upton, who had been the team's primary right fielder since 2008. Prado figures to play at third base in Arizona given the team's crowded outfield and the departure of Johnson.
Teams such as the Orioles that had interest in trading for Kubel will now have to look elsewhere for offense. Though Arizona GM Kevin Towers was willing to listen to offers on Upton and Kubel, there's no indication he'd actually trade both players.
Upton drew interest from multiple MLB teams this offseason, as the Diamondbacks were evidently listening to trade offers. The Rangers, one of Upton's many suitors, offered Mike Olt in a trade, but did not include right-hander Cody Buckel in their proposal, Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports (on Twitter).
Delgado started 17 games for the Braves in 2012 after entering the season as the 46th ranked prospect in MLB, according to Baseball America. The 22-year-old posted a 4.37 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 92 2/3 innings.
Ahmed, 22, played at Class A this past season in his second year as a professional. The 2011 second rounder posted a .269/.337/.391 batting line in 571 plate appearances. Baseball America named him the best defensive infielder in Atlanta's minor league system.
Spruill ranked ninth on BA's list of top Braves prospects this winter. The 23-year-old spent the 2012 season at Double-A Mississippi, posting a 3.67 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 161 2/3 innings.
Drury played at Class A in 2012. The 20-year-old posted a .229/.270/.333 batting line in 480 plate appearances in his third professional season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the teams were nearing an agreement, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported the teams had agreed to a trade (on Twitter) and Mark Bowman of MLB.com first reported the specifics of the deal.
It was on this date in 1871 the Boston Red Stockings incorporated giving birth to today's Atlanta Braves. Let's take a look at the news from the 21st century Braves and the rest of the National League:
- The Braves have enough payroll space to add one significant salary and have yet to rule out Michael Bourn or Justin Upton, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. O'Brien adds GM Frank Wren has spoken with Bourn's agent Scott Boras, but they didn't start any negotiations. O'Brien also has been told manager Fredi Gonzalez contacted Bourn within the past few weeks. In regards to Upton, O'Brien sees the Braves and Rangers as the last two teams standing, but neither seems willing to match what the Mariners offered in their failed bid to acquire the outfielder.
- O'Brien, via Twitter, discounts the suggestion the Braves have yet to acquire Bourn or Upton to save payroll in order to sign Martin Prado to a long-term deal.
- It's been nearly a decade since the Reds had to go to an arbitration hearing, but this year could be different, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. "We're hopeful we can get something done," Reds GM Walt Jocketty said of the six players with whom salary figures were exchanged. "Some of the spreads were significant. We'll see how it proceeds the next week or two." The Reds' arbitration class is headlined by Mat Latos, whose case was analyzed by MLBTR's Matt Swartz last week. You can keep track of all of the Reds' arbitration cases with MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker.
- With the Red Sox still seeking a left-handed hitting first baseman/left fielder, Tom Singer of MLB.com wonders if the Pirates will make another run at Jose Iglesias, as the starting point of a bigger deal involving Garrett Jones (Twitter links).
- There is still no clear-cut answer as to whether Francisco Liriano will be with the Pirates in 2013, tweets Singer. The Pirates and Liriano agreed to a two-year, $12.75MM contract in December, but the deal was put on hold earlier this month when it was discovered the left-hander injured his right arm.
- Lucas Duda told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com his surgically repaired right wrist feels great and he has started hitting off a tee. Duda is projected to man left field for the Mets.
- Chipper Jones was honored at the New York BBWAA dinner last night and confessed to the audience he was starting to get the itch to go back to Spring Training, Rubin reports. "I was on the Braves' web site, just kind of messing around on my computer," said Jones. "I was thinking to myself, 'You know what? I think I'm going to go down and get me a workout in, see how everything feels.' I was down there for about five minutes and I figured I'd go to Hawaii instead."
Many players will avoid arbitration today, and dozens of others exchanged figures with their teams in anticipation of hearings. Most cases won't go to arbitration hearings, but teams such as the Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays and Braves are known for their 'file and trial' policies. For players on those teams this marks the last chance at negotiations before a hearing.
MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker will keep you up to date on every one of the filing numbers from around the game, but here are the highlights — players who filed for $4MM or more. Now for the details…
- Clayton Richard filed for $5.55MM while the Padres offered $4.905MM, according to CBSSports.com.
- Martin Prado filed for $7.05MM while the Braves countered with $6.65MM, Heyman reports (on Twitter).
- Sergio Romo filed for $4.5MM and the Giants countered at $2.675MM, Heyman reports (on Twitter).
- Max Scherzer filed at $7.4MM and the Tigers offered $6.05MM, Heyman reports (on Twitter).
- Jason Hammel filed at $8.25MM and the Orioles offered $5.7MM, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (on Twitter). Jim Johnson filed at $7.1MM and the Orioles countered at $5.7MM.
- Homer Bailey filed at $5.8MM and the Reds filed at $4.75MM, Heyman tweets.
- Jordan Zimmermann filed at $5.8MM and the Nationals offered $4.6MM, Heyman tweets.
- Dexter Fowler filed at $5.15MM with the Rockies offering $4.25MM, Heyman tweets
- Shin-Soo Choo filed at $8MM and the Reds offered $6.75MM, Heyman tweets.
- Chase Headley filed for $10.3MM with the Padres countering at $7.075MM, Heyman tweets.
- Mat Latos asked for $4.7MM and the Reds offered $4.15MM, Heyman tweets.
- Jason Motte filed at $5.5MM and the Cardinals offered $4.5MM, Heyman tweets.
- David Murphy filed at $6.5MM and the Rangers offered $5.05MM, Heyman tweets.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Chase Headley | Chris Heisey | Cincinnati Reds | Clayton Richard | Cleveland Indians | Colorado Rockies | Darren O'Day | David Murphy | Detroit Tigers | Dexter Fowler | Homer Bailey | Jason Hammel | Jason Motte | Jhoulys Chacin | Jim Johnson | Jordan Zimmermann | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Martin Prado | Mat Latos | Max Scherzer | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | Sergio Romo | Shin-Soo Choo | St. Louis Cardinals | Texas Rangers | Transactions | Washington Nationals
Baseball’s most recent collective bargaining agreement introduced new rules regarding draft pick compensation, and the changes were expected to help free agents. However, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports that some agents and general managers say certain free agents who obtained qualifying offers are now seeing reduced interest from teams. These players are talented, but general managers are hesitant to give up draft picks. Here are more notes from Olney’s column…
- One GM pointed out that teams aren’t “wild about giving up a draft pick for a reliever," even though Rafael Soriano is a good pitcher. The Yankees almost certainly won’t consider taking him back, according to Olney.
- The Red Sox have targeted players who aren’t linked to draft pick compensation, as Olney points out.
- Adam LaRoche is tied to draft pick compensation and it’s “really hurting him,” Olney writes. The first baseman has been sitting on a two-year offer from the Nationals.
- It appears that the Braves would be fairly comfortable going into the season with Martin Prado playing both left field and third base. They’d use Reed Johnson in left field against left-handers and Juan Francisco at third base against right-handers in that scenario.
The Braves’ pitching staff looks deep, but they could turn over one quarter of their lineup in the coming offseason. GM Frank Wren discussed the team with MLBTR at this year's general manager meetings in Indian Wells, California. Here’s the latest on the Braves, including Wren’s thoughts on the offseason’s top free agent position player…
- The Braves are looking at free agents that could fit in Atlanta, and the GM acknowledged Josh Hamilton is on the team’s radar. “Obviously we’re aware of Josh being a free agent, being a guy that would fit the bill for us,” Wren said. “But we’re not a club that has a huge payroll, and one player taking a huge percentage of our payroll is not the strategy we generally take to field our club. We need to put as many quality players on the field as we can and when one player takes such a large percentage, that inhibits our ability to put a team together.” Danny Knobler reported last week that the Braves are intrigued by Hamilton.
- Martin Prado’s versatility means the Braves can pursue outfielders or third basemen, Wren said. “His flexibility is a real benefit to us.”
- The Braves will be seeking outfield reinforcements this offseason, and they’d like to bring back Michael Bourn if possible. “I’m not sure where that market’s going to go, and where he’s going to go. We’ll stay abreast of it,” Wren said. “He’s a guy we’d like to have back.” The center fielder will presumably decline Atlanta’s qualifying offer by Friday’s deadline.
- The Braves’ pitching staff will return mostly unchanged in 2013, and Wren considers pitching depth one of the organization’s primary strengths. “We have some dynamic young pitchers that are on the verge of being a part of our rotation or on our club,” he added. Though Wren remains open to trading from pitching depth, he pointed out that it can disappear quickly.
The Braves currently sit atop the NL Wild Card race thanks in large part to the impact and versatility of Martin Prado. The 28-year-old is hitting .295/.357/.416 with 30 doubles and 14 steals (in 16 attempts) while playing left field (88 games), third base (18 games), second base (four games), first base (three games), and shortstop (two games). Quite a bargain for $4.75MM.
Last month we heard that the Braves want to sign Prado to a multiyear contract extension because they believe he is their long-term replacement for Chipper Jones at third base. The two sides have yet to start serious negotiations, however. Prado will be arbitration-eligible for the third and final time this offseason and is due to become a free agent following the 2013 campaign.
Given his unique career, it's very tough to pin down Prado's value relative to his peers. The best comparison may be Alex Gordon, who has also spent significant time at third base and in left field. He's a career .268/.348/.437 hitter with 77 homers in over 2,800 plate appearances, and signed a four-year, $37.5MM extension (with a $12.5MM player option for a fifth year) back in Spring Training. He was due to become a free agent after 2013 as well.
Prado is a .294/.344/.431 career hitter with 47 homers in just over 2,600 career plate appearances, so he matches up well with Gordon in the OBP and SLG departments. Gordon had his big breakout season a year ago while Prado has been a bit more consistent, posting a 108 OPS+ four times in the last five seasons. Gordon has done it three times in his five-year career, but he's also been demoted to the minors on a few occasions.
Because he's closer to free agency and has an All-Star Game nomination to his credit, Prado and his representatives at Peter E. Greenberg & Associates should have no problem asking for something north of Gordon's deal. Perhaps four years and $40-45MM makes sense for both parties, especially the team since it's easy to see him eclipsing that guarantee on the open market 15-16 months from now.
The Braves have shown a willingness to sign players to extensions in the middle of the season, most notably with Chipper years ago and David Ross back in 2010. Prado's upcoming arbitration case figures to bump his salary up into the $7-8MM range next year, if not even higher. Given the impending free agency of Michael Bourn, Atlanta may want to act quickly to avoid potentially losing two core offensive pieces in back-to-back winters.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
Earlier this week we heard that the Braves will attempt to sign Martin Prado to a contract extension since they view him as their long-term third base replacement for Chipper Jones. The two sides have yet to have any discussions about a deal however, and Prado told MLB.com's Mark Bowman and Teddy Cahill that it's not on his mind at the moment.
"That is not something I want to think about right now," Prado said. "I just want to focus on this season."
Prado, 28, will earn $4.75MM this season before becoming arbitration-eligible for the third and final time this offseason. He's scheduled to become a free agent after 2013. A .296/.345/.435 career hitter with a .311/.369/.441 batting line this year, Prado has quietly become one of the game's most versatile and effective players. He's spent significant time at second base, third base, and in left field throughout his career.
It's tough to find similar players to use as contract comparisions given how many times Prado has changed positions through the years. Yesterday at FanGraphs I wrote that a four-year pact in the $40MM range could work for both sides, though Prado's representatives at Peter E. Greenberg & Associates could push for a deal in line with Alex Gordon's four-year, $50MM contract with the Royals.