A large amount of Atlanta Braves fans immediately reacted with a knee jerk when it was announced Friday that they acquired Justin Upton from the Arizona Diamondbacks while shipping away Martin Prado. Fans wanted Upton, but dealing away Prado meant getting rid of a fan favorite and clubhouse leader, so why would the Braves make that trade?
True, Prado threw up a .301 average last year and can reliably hover in that range even while playing five different positions, but Upton gives the Braves an anchor in left field with legitimate 30-30 potential. He can also hit in the .280-.300 range.
Fans also protest giving up a clubhouse leader in Prado and taking what has been deemed a questionable attitude in the Upton brothers. After all, the Diamondbacks were up front about wanting a grittier type players to be managed by Kirk Gibson, and Upton doesn't fit that mold.
However, Upton believes the presence of his brother B.J. Upton can actually spur the both of them – who haven't played together since high school – to a higher level of play.
“I think we can really feed off of each other throughout that lineup to try to get everybody to a consistent production rate,” Upton said in a conference call.
With at least three years of brothers egging each other on, whether through sibling rivalry or brotherly love, Braves fans can rest assured that the brothers Upton will be looking to one-up each other throughout the season.
But the main reason trading Prado, as painful as it may be, came down to finances. Prado stood to make about $7 million in 2013 and was demanding $10-12 million per year in a multiyear deal. Upton on his own is making $9.75 million this year and over $14 million in 2014 and 2015, but his presence means the third base platoon will remain strictly at third base without forcing Prado to switch between left and third.
It may be tough to stomach, but the Braves look to be better off with Prado and with Upton, and they may even have the best lineup in the National League.
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