The much-anticipated and long-rumored Justin Upton trade finally materialized Thursday, after an offseason of waiting and two-plus years on the market.
The Diamondbacks dealt Upton to the Atlanta Braves in a seven-player trade that brought Martin Prado, Randall Delgado and three minor league prospects to Arizona. Chris Johnson also went to Atlanta, opening up the third base job that Prado will take. Delgado, a right-hander, is a candidate for the No. 5 spot in the Arizona rotation.
The trade also opens center field for rookie Adam Eaton, who has the skill set of a leadoff hitter. He displayed off-the-charts makeup in a September call-up. Newcomer Cody Ross, whose arrival in December seemed to demand another outfield move, is expected to play right field, with Jason Kubel in left field and former Gold Glove winner Gerardo Parra subbing at all three.
"We're going to be a little different club," D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said. "I think we will still hit home runs, but I think the last couple of years we have relied too much on the long ball. That's not to say we are not going to hit homers, but I think it is going to be a different style of play. If you look at our record, those days that we didn't homer, we didn't win.
"We wanted to have more of an offense where we had that speed dynamic. Guys like Prado, you can hit-and-run with, make solid contact and use the whole field. That's not to say we are not going to hit homers, but I think it is going to be a different style of play, and the style of play I was hoping for when we first got here."
Prado, 29, is eligible for salary arbitration after earning $4.75 million last season. Before the trade, he filed a request for a $7.05 million salary, while the Braves countered with an offer of $6.65 million.
Prado would be eligible for free agency after the 2013 season, but the D-backs would not have made the deal unless they were confident they could sign him to a long-term extension, a source said.
Towers said his discussions with Atlanta general manager Frank Wren made it seem that Prado was open to the security of a long-term deal, and the D-backs already have reached out to Prado's agent.
"This deal is much better if we are able to secure the services of Martin for more than one year, and we are hopeful and optimistic that we get that done. We're going to work real hard over the next couple of weeks and hopefully get something done before we start playing spring training games," Towers said.
Prado largely played left field the past two years in Atlanta, but he will take over at third base in Arizona. He also has experience at second base.
The D-backs also acquired shortstop Nick Ahmed, right-hander Zeke Spruill and first baseman Brandon Drury.