Multiple outlets have been reporting since early Wednesday afternoon that the Atlanta Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks have engaged in “serious discussions” regarding a deal that would send Justin Upton to Atlanta. Upton, who’s seemingly been on the trading block for the past two seasons, has made no secret that his preferred destination was Atlanta if the D’backs are to deal him (even though he has little say in the matter) but it was believed that the Braves were apprehensive about the potential asking price.
Upton’s availability has been the subject of plenty of discussion over the course of the winter. The 25 year old is signed through the 2015 season and is just two years removed from finishing in the Top 5 for MVP voting. Last season he hit .280/.355/.430 with 17 HR over 554 plate appearances, which for him was arguably a “down year”. Yet, for numerous reasons, the D’backs and Upton have developed such a strained relationship that a deal doesn’t only seem inevitable, but necessary for both sides. Arizona won’t part with him for a cheap package, however, as evidenced by the assortment of players they agreed to accept from the Seattle Mariners before Upton vetoed the trade (Seattle was one of four teams included in his no-trade clause.).
According to some reports, there is an offer on the table that was initiated by the Braves. Specifics of the deal have not been confirmed, though there have been a handful of names tossed out as possible inclusions. Arizona has expressed interest in Evan Gattis, a catcher in the process of being converted into a left fielder partly due to the Braves depth behind the plate, and they are also believed to “like” shortstop Nick Ahmed. Multiple suggestions also have been pointing to right-handed Julio Teheran’s inclusion in an offer. There is some sentiment that the trio of prospects could be enough to get a deal done, while others seem to feel as though Atlanta may need to add one more piece (likely a Major League relief pitcher) to convince D’backs GM Kevin Towers to sign off on a trade.
Should Atlanta manage to acquire Upton, they’ll possess one of the top outfields in baseball heading into the 2013 season. Upton will likely slide over and play left field, given Jason Heyward’s presence in right. His older brother, B.J. Upton, will be in center field after the Braves signed him to a lucrative free agent deal earlier this winter.