COMMENTARY | January is normally the slowest month for baseball fans, but the recent news of Justin Upton turning down a deal that would have sent him to the Seattle Mariners has suddenly put a spark back in baseball news.
According to reports, the Mariners were willing to send one of their three top pitching prospects in Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton along with infielder Nick Franklin, lefty Charlie Furbush and right-hander Stephen Pryor to the Arizona Diamondbacks in return for the younger Upton brother.
This would have been a massive haul for the Arizona Diamondbacks and a deal I don't feel they'll be able to get anywhere else.
But with the rejection of this deal, the Atlanta Braves have suddenly been brought back in the picture for a possible destination. And now we have an idea of what it would take to join Justin with his brother B.J.
Initial trade talks between the Diamondbacks and Braves revolved around shortstop Andrelton Simmons but after they acquired Didi Gregorius from the Reds, it is believed they no longer are set on getting a shortstop.
With the Diamondbacks' requirements for a deal changing, and the increasing sense that Justin will be moved before the season starts, opens the door back open for the Braves.
Based on what the Mariners were willing to give up, the Braves would need to offer their top pitching prospect, top infield prospect, a mid-level pitching prospect, and probably one more prospect.
I think any deal the Braves propose would have to involve Julio Teheran and Nick Ahmed. Along with those two, the Braves would need to throw in someone like Zeke Spruill and possibly one more arm that could work out of the bullpen.
Even with those four, I'm not sure the Diamondbacks would accept the trade offer, but I think it's the best the Braves could do. And if the Diamondbacks are dead set on parting ways with the young outfielder, this deal is more than fair.
Does adding Justin Upton make sense?
If the Diamondbacks did accept the deal, how much sense would it make for the Braves financially and long term?
There is no doubt that adding Justin significantly increases the Braves' chances of winning a championship, which should always be the objective.
From all indications, the Braves have about $7-9 million left to spend. Justin is owed $9.75 million in 2013 before his salary jumps up to $14.25 million in 2014 and $14.5 million in 2015.
The Braves could probably afford him but may need to move money elsewhere by trading a reliever or bench player.
The Braves would owe around $110 million to Uptons over the next five years. I'm not a fan of locking up that much money to two players for a significant period, especially when players like Craig Kimbrel, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman will need to be paid soon.
Despite all the negatives financially, Justin is an affordable option that makes sense and gives the Braves their best chance of winning this year.
It doesn't take a baseball genius to realize having another Upton in the outfield is better than a Jose Constanza, Reed Johnson or Jordan Schafer out there.
And maybe playing together is just what the two need to take their games to the next level.
There has also been talk lately about the Braves possibly still being able to re-sign Michael Bourn. I don't see this as a possibility unless the asking price has come down significantly in terms of years and annual salary.
In my opinion, I think his agent, Scott Boras, is running out of options for Bourn and is hoping to use the Braves as leverage. Bourn is a better fit for what the Braves need, but I'd feel more comfortable giving that type of money to a younger Upton who has more upside potential.
Also, with the Washington National signing Adam LaRoche, they are looking to trade Michael Morse. At 30, Morse is a late bloomer who didn't get his first full-time gig in the majors until he was almost 29. He's owed $6.75 million in 2013 and would be a free agent at the end of the season.
The Nationals are apparently asking for a major-league ready left-handed reliever like Eric O'Flaherty and a minor-league prospect. I think that is too much for a rental player, and I don't like trading players within the division.
With all the other teams interested in Morse, I don't see him coming to Atlanta this season.
If the Braves are going to make any move before the season to fill the left field spot, the most likely scenario would be trading for Justin Upton. But even that seems like a long shot at this point. But it's January, and Braves fans should be allowed to dream of an outfield that includes the Upton brothers and Heyward for the next three years.
Jake Mastroianni has written for several websites pertaining to the Braves and baseball in general. He also has experience working in media relations for minor league baseball, as well as at the collegiate level.
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