Why the Atlanta Braves Should Trade for Justin Upton
After signing BJ Upton last week, attention now turns to his brother. Justin Upton has been on the trade block for a few months, and now that his brother plays for the Atlanta Braves there are going to be rumors that the Braves could be trying to acquire him as well.
This article takes a look at a couple reasons why the Braves need to go out and get a deal for Justin Upton done at the winter meetings.
A Huge Hole
The addition of BJ Upton fills one of the two holes in the Braves' lineup; the other is either in left field or third base depending on where Fredi Gonzalez decides to play Martin Prado in 2013, but either way there aren't any good in-house options.
If the Braves wanted to look from within at third base they would really only have slugging reserve Juan Francisco, who is very strikeout prone and is below-average defensively. If the Braves went from within in left field, the top options are the light-hitting duo of Jose Constanza and Jordan Schafer, unless they re-sign platoon outfielder Reed Johnson.
Either of these options would leave a huge hole in the lineup, and with a team like the Washington Nationals in the NL East, the Braves need to put the best possible team on the field.
The Braves had an estimated $12 million available for their 2013 payroll after signing BJ Upton, which would do a good job of covering Justin Upton's contract. Upton has a very team-friendly contract which will give him less than $10 million this season and $28.5 million over the following two seasons.
Atlanta also saves a few million dollars in arbitration after dealing Tommy Hanson to the Angels for Jordan Walden. While the move may not have been entirely about cost, the savings were a major benefit.
The Braves have the pieces to make a trade for Justin Upton happen. To start a deal the Diamondbacks could be looking for a shortstop in return, and although the Braves aren't likely to deal Andrelton Simmons they also have Nick Ahmed as a trade piece in the minors.
The Diamondbacks have also been rumored to be looking for a top-tier arm, and the Braves would have top prospects Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado available. They could also potentially deal a younger pitcher like Kris Medlen, though the front office may not want to deal a guy who has drawn comparisons to Greg Maddux.
The Braves also have a deep crop of relievers to deal from. In addition to Craig Kimbrel and recent acquisition Jordan Walden, the Braves have top setup men Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty. This doesn't even mention 2012 rookie Luis Avilan, who had plenty of success in his debut.
Upton Is Elite
Perhaps the biggest reason why the Braves need to go out and trade for Justin Upton is the fact that the younger Upton brother has established himself among the top outfielders in the game. It may be hard to believe since he has been around for a few years, but Upton will be playing the bulk of the 2013 season at the age of 25.
Justin Upton is the type of player that could compete for MVP Awards every year. In 2011 at the age of 23, he finished fourth in voting as he hit .289 with 39 doubles, 31 homers, 88 RBI and 21 steals. That monster season helped lead his team to a playoff berth and earned him his second career All-Star selection.
Justin Upton is not yet in his prime, and he should only continue to improve upon his numbers as he gets closer to that stage of his career. Sure he struggled a bit in 2012, but he was slowed down by a thumb injury and still managed to hit .280 with 17 homers.