The wait is finally over as the Arizona Diamondbacks made it official Thursday sending Justin Upton and infielder Chris Johnson to the Atlanta Braves for infielder/outfielder Martin Prado and four prospects.
Brad Cesmsat caught up with two well-respected baseball insiders Tom Verducci from Sports Illustrated/MLB Network and Yahoo! Sports MLB insider Jeff Passan on ‘Big Guy on Sports’ to get a national perspective on the trade. Below are some excerpts from each interview.
Verducci’s initial thoughts on the deal: “Clearly the Diamondbacks reached a point of no return with Justin Upton. Having put him out there on the trade mark for the better part of two years now…I think the motivation was there to move him. I think both parties are happy now. I think Justin is really happy and the Diamondbacks are happy to move on. Time will tell if it’s a good deal or not.”
Passan’s overall views on the trade: “It’s a bold deal I’ll tell you that. Between this and the [Trevor] Bauer trade arguably the Diamondbacks have gotten rid of their two most talented players this off season and the return I think it questionable at this point. I understand they want to sign Martin Prato to an extension…but they could have gotten him on the free agent market without having to give up Justin Upton, too. Making this deal right now…you begin to wonder if this is what’s going to stamp Kevin Towers’ legacy in Arizona and are these deals going to make him the winner here…or losing his job because of it.”
Verducci on what didn’t go right with Upton here in Arizona: “That’s a great question because that word “potential” is still there with Upton and his numbers are good…let’s be honest here the Diamondbacks know him better than anybody else. His numbers on the road are really pedestrian. They’re not superstar numbers. I think the injury quotient here you can’t dismiss. You’re talking about a guy from ages 20-24 who was unable to start almost 20% of the games. I think going forward this probably is concern about how often he’s going to be out there on that field.”
Passan on if the Diamondbacks received enough in the trade: “The return from all the people I’ve spoken with around the league is, ‘that’s all they got for him?’ I think they understood that trading Upton was the right move at this point…but if you’re going to trade him you need to get a sure, sure thing over the long haul. I don’t know if (pitchers) Randall Delgado and Zeke Spruill, or (infielder) Nick Ahmed are by any means a sure thing…the return for Upton is a little bit curious. There’s no question about it.”
Verducci on the new-look Diamondbacks chances of competing in the National League West: “[Towers] has really stuck his neck out there and traded a lot of pieces. It remains to be seen if they can contend. The Dodgers, I think on paper, are the favorites but you’ll have to see how that works out on the field to see if they’re better than the Giants….it’s a very tough division. Right now I’d say the Diamondbacks are not in the class of the Dodgers and Giants, but let’s see this thing on the field. I do think they have really good depth in pitching…I think they’re definitely a contender. I think it’s a team that should have a winning record and be play games in the second half of the season with a chance for a wildcard.”
Passan on the Diamondbacks new-look outfield: “I think [Adam] Eaton is a guy who will lead off for this team for the next five years and Parra is a great guy to have around, but I don’t think he’ll be getting starting at-bats, though. I think it’s going to be the same situation for him that it was over the last couple years where he’s going to me more of the 120-game, 350-400 at-bat guy. I wouldn’t expect any of the Diamondbacks outfielders to be getting 150-160 games. It’s a good, deep rotation to have. It’s just a better one when Justin Upton’s in there.”