Glad you're staying in the NL, Justin. (USAT Sports)
After months of rumored deals, near deals, non-deals and rejected deals, Justin Upton is finally on the move.
Upton and Chris Johnson have been traded to the Atlanta Braves in a seven-player swap, with Martin Prado and Randall Delgado the biggest names headed to Arizona. Also joining the D-backs are prospects Brandon Drury, Nick Ahmed and Zeke Spuril, none of whom project as legit fantasy assets. (You can find John Sickels' notes on the farmhands right here).
The big winner in this deal, without question, is me. I've got Upton on my roster at $30 in an NL-only dynasty league ($300 salary cap). If he would have been shipped to the American League, whatever compensation I received would not have offset my loss. So yeah, I'm thrilled. Big thanks to Justin for killing that trade to Seattle.
Upton now heads to Turner Field, where he's hit reasonably well over a small number of at-bats (57 AB, .293/.388/.483). He'll join his brother BJ in Atlanta, where they'll team with Jason Heyward, forming a ridiculously talented young outfield. Remember, Justin is still just 25 years old, BJ is 28, and Heyward is only 23. There's a park downgrade to worry about here, as Turner isn't quite as hitter-friendly as Chase Field, particularly for right-handed power. But the Braves' lineup isn't too shabby — Freeman, Uggla, McCann, et al — plus you have to assume that Justin may benefit from having all the trade talk behind him. And, assuming he and his brother actually like each other, he's no doubt pleased with his landing spot.
Justin is a season removed from a 31-homer, 21-steal campaign, and there's no reason to think he can't reach those numbers again as he enters his peak years. Atlanta has him under contract for another three seasons, at reasonable money ($38.5 million). Prado is no small loss for the Braves, but he's a year away from free agency and he clearly doesn't have Upton's ceiling. He's a good-not-great player in fantasy terms — respectable average, acceptable power and speed, stellar position eligibility (2B/3B/SS/OF) — and he's headed to a nice home park. You can make an easy argument to bump his value a buck or two on your preseason price list. For me, he's a sixth or seventh rounder in a mixed league draft. Again, the positional utility is key. Atlanta is left with a Juan Francisco-Chris Johnson platoon at third. Francisco, the lefty-hitting half of the platoon, is a 25-year-old with pop, a decent name for deep leaguers.
Delgado, 22, is a nice add for the D-backs, and he'll have a chance to crack the rotation before long. He's managed to deliver league-average performance for Atlanta over 127.2 career innings (3.95 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 94 Ks), at a young age. At some point, Delgado figures to be a useful fantasy commodity. You won't draft him in most formats in 2013, but he's on the pick-up radar.
I won't say Arizona received a terrible haul for Upton, but I still have no idea why the team felt the urgent need to deal him. Last year, in a season that seemed to disappoint everyone, he scored 107 runs, hit 17 homers, stole 18 bases, and hit .280/.355/.430. Not spectacular for an outfielder, but not miserable, either. We can partially attribute his power slump to an early season thumb injury. If you intend to own any of the Braves outfielders in 2013, you'll need to target them in Round 2. If these guys fall to the third, it's a gift.
The Diamondbacks' outfield isn't a wasteland, we should note, with 24-year-old Adam Eaton in center, plus Jason Kubel and Cody Ross in the corners (and Gerardo Parra lurking). Eaton reached base at a .382 clip for Arizona last September, following a tremendous season at Triple-A Reno (.381/.456/.539, 38 SB). He led the PCL in batting average, OBP, total bases and steals last year, and he has a relatively clear path to 500 at-bats this season. Keep him in your late-round plans.