The Atlanta Braves' pursuit of Arizona outfielder Justin Upton picked up steam Wednesday, with the Diamondbacks fearing they can't land a bigger package of players than the Braves' trade offer that centers on pitching prospect Julio Teheran, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
After a proposed deal with the Seattle Mariners fell apart on Jan. 10 when Upton blocked the trade, the Diamondbacks have been disappointed with the quality of options, according to a league source. The Texas Rangers, who are not on Upton's no-trade list, have not made another offer since the Diamondbacks rejected a proposal before the Seattle deal.
Whether it's Upton or Jason Kubel, the Diamondbacks are pushing hard to deal an outfielder and lessen their current glut, another source said. Currently they have five starting-caliber outfielders – Upton, Kubel, free-agent signing Cody Ross, Gerardo Parra and prospect Adam Eaton – and while Baltimore has shown interest in Kubel, the Diamondbacks are more inclined to deal Upton because of a greater return and concerns of a frayed relationship.
For the second consecutive offseason, the Diamondbacks have put the 25-year-old on the trade market, though this season talks have progressed to the point the team fears the discussions have alienated him. Upton, coming off the worst season of his six-year career and in the midst of a deal that will pay him $38.5 million over the next three years, would welcome a trade to Atlanta that would unite him with older brother B.J.
[Related: D'backs No. 14 in MLB Springboard rankings]
A trade for Justin Upton could vault the Braves, who have long sought right-handed power, back toward the top of the National League East alongside the favored Washington Nationals. Atlanta's lineup, with the Upton brothers, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Brian McCann, Martin Prado, Dan Uggla and Andrelton Simmons, would be one of the NL's best on paper.
The Braves' proposed package would include shortstop prospect Nick Ahmed, according to a source. Foxsports.com reported power-hitting 26-year-old Evan Gattis, a catcher-turned-outfielder, could also be in the deal, and while Atlanta wants to keep right-hander J.R. Graham, a source said his inclusion could be the key to getting the deal done.
Teheran, who the teams consider the centerpiece of the deal, is a 22-year-old who struggled last season at Triple-A and in the major leagues after blazing through the Braves' farm system. Entering the 2012 season, many considered him the best right-handed pitching prospect in the game.
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