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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.
The Mariners continue discussing an extension with Felix Hernandez, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The sides aren’t close to a deal, and are now “dancing.” However, Seattle is at least considering a four-year, $100MM offer, according to Rosenthal. It’s not clear if the Mariners have offered a nine-figure deal to Hernandez, whose current contract expires at the end of the 2014 season. The 26-year-old Octagon client would presumably want a longer commitment, as Rosenthal points out. Here are more of Rosenthal’s notes from around MLB…
- The Mariners’ willingness to add veterans approaching free agency suggests GM Jack Zduriencik senses an urgency to win now in the view of some rival executives.
- Justin Upton won’t be traded for Chase Headley, an official from one of the teams involved told Rosenthal. Headley is two years away from free agency, however, and Rosenthal suggests that the Padres figure to move him eventually. Upton, another trade candidate, is under contract through 2015.
- The Diamondbacks and Rangers haven’t revived Upton-centered trade talks since the Mariners’ failed attempt at acquiring the 25-year-old right fielder. Rosenthal reports that the sides agreed to “move on.” When the teams were last in contact the Rangers offered a four-played package led by Mike Olt that would have included shortstop prospect Leury Garcia and either Martin Perez or Cody Buckel plus a fourth prospect.
- The Rangers continue pondering one significant move. They are viewed as possible destinations for Kyle Lohse and Michael Bourn, and could also pursue relief help. The Rangers discussed right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard with the Nationals earlier this offseason, Rosenthal reports.
- The Nationals could trade Clippard or Drew Storen now that they’ve signed Rafael Soriano. One rival executive suggested Washington could sign Lohse, but Rosenthal writes that a deal with free agent right-hander Javier Vazquez seems more likely.
11:37pm: The Padres and D'Backs found no match in trade talks about Upton or Jason Kubel, reports Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (on Twitter). San Diego doesn't want to move Headley and they don't have a spot for Kubel with Carlos Quentin on the roster.
3:27pm: The Padres and Diamondbacks have had on-and-off discussions about a deal involving Justin Upton and Chase Headley since July, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. However, those talks have yet to result in a deal.
Even though that deal hasn't worked out, the Diamondbacks continue to discuss Upton with other clubs, including the Rangers and Mariners while also considering offers for Jason Kubel. The Rangers want to build a package around third baseman Mike Olt rather than shortstop Elvis Andrus or infielder Jurickson Profar and they're willing to add a top pitching prospect and a third quality piece to the package, sources say.
However, sources tell Rosenthal that the D'Backs believe they could make an even better deal for Upton with another club like the Mariners, who are aggressively trying to add a power hitter. However, as we've heard before, Seattle is on Upton's four-team no-trade list and he's not inclined to approve a deal to the M's. The Mariners might be able to change Upton's mind with a lucrative contract extension.
Earlier this week we learned that the Braves have also inquired on Upton.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
Now that we’re midway through the 2012-13 offseason, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com checks in with executives, statistical analysts and oddsmakers to take a look at the teams that have improved themselves the most this winter. Not surprisingly, the Blue Jays are a popular choice for most improved team. Here are some more links from around MLB…
- The Marlins tried to trade for Mike Olt of the Rangers, Nick Castellanos of the Tigers and Jedd Gyorko of the Padres before signing Placido Polanco, Stark reports.
- The Mariners recently spoke with the Dodgers about Chris Capuano, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports. However, it doesn't appear that those talks have progressed. Seattle could add a veteran arm after trading Jason Vargas to the Angels for Kendrys Morales, and the Dodgers have a surplus of starting pitchers.
- The Red Sox asked the Dodgers about Andre Ethier at the start of the winter and heard he was “not available,” Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). It doesn’t appear that the Dodgers will trade Ethier this winter.
- The Mariners also talked to the Dodgers about Ethier, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report. However, talks failed to progress.
All signs point to the Mets trading R.A. Dickey, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). The sides aren't progressing toward an extension, and Dickey's one-year, $5MM salary seems quite appealing to teams seeking pitching. Here are today's Dickey rumors, with the most recent items up top…
- The Blue Jays and Mets are close to agreeing on a trade that would send Dickey to Toronto, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The names in the trade aren't finalized, but outfielder Anthony Gose is likely to be included in the deal. The Mets also are expected to acquire either J.P. Arencibia or Travis d’Arnaud. However, the Blue Jays are looking to get more out of the deal if they surrender d'Arnaud.
- D'Arnaud is very much in play in the talks, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The deal would be bigger, however, with multiple pieces going both ways.
- The Mets may be landing d'Arnaud in the deal, Heyman tweets.
- Travis d'Arnaud was a "must have" during the winter meetings for a deal with the Blue Jays to happen, sources tell Andy Martino of the Daily News (via Twitter).
- Two sources involved in the talks say not to expect any resolution with Dickey tonight, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.
- The Mets and Blue Jays have made progress on a potential deal, Morosi reports (on Twitter). They aren't in agreement at this point.
- It looks like the Mets have a good offer from the Blue Jays, Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog reports (on Twitter). The Mets still appear to be talking to the Angels and Orioles.
- A high-ranking executive of a team that pursued Dickey believes the knuckleballer is being traded to Toronto, Morosi reports (on Twitter).
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels said on MLB Network Radio that if Dickey is being traded it's not to Texas, Casey Stern of MLB Network Radio reports (Twitter link, audio here). Daniels acknowledged that he had some dialogue about Dickey.
- The Blue Jays are growing confident they will acquire Dickey, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Mike Wilner of Sportsnet 590 the FAN would characterize the Blue Jays as "hopeful" (Twitter link).
- The Mets were interested in Buckel, though he wasn't necessarily being offered, Martino clarifies (on Twitter).
The Rangers lost out on a trade target when the Royals acquired James Shields last night, just days after losing out on free agent target Zack Greinke. Things aren't going exactly as they've planned this offseason, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a host of Rangers updates in his latest column…
- A rival executive told Rosenthal that the Rangers are either going to overpay Josh Hamilton or overpay Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers for Justin Upton. Rangers GM Jon Daniels is so focused on Upton that he figures to eventually land him, writes Rosenthal.
- It's not completely out of the question that the Rangers could acquire Upton and still sign Hamilton now that Greinke is off the table.
- Anibal Sanchez is a long shot for the Rangers, but he's on their radar. A trade for R.A. Dickey is also unlikely at this point.
- The team is said to prefer lower-cost starters and could pursue someone like Chris Capuano in a trade to provide an upgrade over Martin Perez.
- The Rangers are interested in A.J. Pierzynski, who would obviously push Geovany Soto into a backup role. Pierzynski's left-handed bat would help to balance a heavily right-handed lineup.
- Ian Kinsler isn't big on the idea of shifting to first base one year into his five-year extension in order to allow Jurickson Profar to play second base, but he will play wherever he's asked.
- Daniels tells Rosenthal he's not planning on Kinsler switching positions yet and is considering all possible scenarios for the 2013 roster.
- A three-team deal with the Rangers, Diamondbacks and Indians was "very close" to happening at the Winter Meetings. The foundation of the deal was Upton to Texas, Cabrera to Arizona, and Mike Olt and one of Trevor Bauer or Patrick Corbin to Cleveland. Presumably, other names were involved.
With Zack Greinke now off the market, the secondary free agent starting pitchers perhaps will begin to sign, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Or, the trade market for R.A. Dickey could heat up quickly. ESPN's Buster Olney tweets, given the economics of free agent starting pitching from Greinke's six years and $147MM to Joe Blanton's two-year, $15MM deal with the Angels, Dickey's extension demands look very reasonable. Here are today's rumors involving the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner with the most recent up top:
- The Mets have asked for a rich package from the Rangers that included Mike Olt and the Rangers have yet to counter, tweets the New York Post's Ken Davidoff. The lack of a counteroffer most likely means the Rangers don't see common ground for a deal, Davidoff tweets.
- The Rangers have expressed a willingness to include Olt in a deal for Dickey, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. But, Martino tweets it will take more than Olt for the Mets to move Dickey.
- In a separate tweet, Martino says "modest" progress has been made in extension talks since the end of the Winter Meetings, as the two sides have resumed their dialogue.
Mike Olt is a name to watch this week at the Winter Meetings, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, who tweets that at least one rival official believes the Rangers are willing to trade the young third baseman.
According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, the Rangers are receiving plenty of inquiries on Olt, but Sullivan isn't as certain Texas is open to a deal. General manager Jon Daniels tells Sullivan that although the perception is that Olt is blocked by Adrian Beltre, the Rangers don't view him that way. With Nelson Cruz, David Murphy, and Michael Young set to hit free agency a year from now, the Rangers feel Olt could be a key part of the lineup going forward, according to Daniels.
We'll round up today's rumors on Justin Upton, one of the winter's most intriguing trade candidates, right here, with the latest updates added to the top of the page throughout the day…
- The Mariners and Diamondbacks met tonight, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
- The Diamondbacks are said to be one of the most aggressive teams at the Winter Meetings so far, tweets ESPN.com's Buster Olney, who says rival teams believe Arizona will move Upton.
- The Rangers haven't given up on Upton, though the D-Backs continue to insist Elvis Andrus is included in any deal, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Texas would prefer to build a package around players like Mike Olt and/or Derek Holland rather than giving up Andrus or Jurickson Profar, according to Rosenthal.
- Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com tweets that the Rangers and D-Backs are still talking about Upton, but that there's "nothing there" at the moment.
It was reported over the weekend that the Rangers attempted to acquire Andrelton Simmons from the Braves in order to flip him to the Diamondbacks as part of a package for Justin Upton. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports takes the story one step further, adding that the Rangers are so interested in Upton that they were willing to flip top prospect Mike Olt for Simmons to facilitate the trade. Knobler reports that the D-backs want Simmons, but the Braves will keep him rather than making a run at Upton to fill their own corner outfield needs (Twitter links).
The attachment to Simmons isn't a surprise. He batted .289/.335/.416 with three homers in 49 games this season, but was far more impressive with his glove. Simmons posted an astounding 31.6 UZR/150, and John Dewan's Fielding Bible pegged him at +19 runs despite totaling only 426 innings.
Arizona would like a young shortstop in a trade for Upton, but the Rangers are reluctant trade either Elvis Andrus or top prospect Jurickson Profar. The 24-year-old Olt ranked 43rd on Baseball America's Top 100 prosspect list prior to 2012, but emerged as one of the game's top prospects with a monstrous season at Double-A. He batted .288/.398/.579 with 28 home runs and made his Major League debut, appearing in 16 games for the Rangers down the stretch.