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The Real Justin Upton Trade


On Thursday, the Atlanta Braves traded for Chris Johnson and Justin Upton from the Arizona Diamondbacks, who received Martin Prado, Zeke Spruill, Randall Delgado, Nick Ahmed, and Brandon Drury.  It seemed like the mass reaction to the real Upton trade is that the Diamondbacks were somewhat fleeced, or did not get enough back from the Braves. Just looking at the names, it seems pretty clear that the Braves did not give up as much as the Mariners were going to give up for Upton.

Dan Symborski did post the ZIPs projections on all the players in the trade (except Drury) and has Atlanta getting 3.6 WAR for 2012, while the Diamondbacks get 5.7 WAR for 2012 in the trade, if you assume that Delgado and Spruill get around 140 innings each and Nick Ahmed playing everyday. It is doubtful that Delgado and Spruill will get a combined 280 innings, and Nick Ahmed has never even played in AA, making it doubtful he will even reach the Majors in 2013. ZIPs also has some serious problems when it comes to projecting rookie pitchers as well. With these qualifications aside, it still seems like it is hard to argue that the Diamondbacks were absolutely robbed in the trade. So we will break the trade down the trade by player, with some notes on each and then, at the end, compare it to the package the Mariners were willing to give up to get Upton before he declined the trade.

If you look at those ZIPs projections, you notice that Martin Prado is actually projected to be better than Justin Upton, and many have pointed out that he had a better rWAR in 2012 than Upton. Over the past 3 seasons, Prado has averaged a 2.3 WAA and 4.03 rWAR, which is quite impressive. He has had over 1 defensive win above average over the last 3 years as well, according to DRS. UZR likes him, but less, especially in 2010-2011 (before he was rated as 1.78 wins). If you replace DRS with UZR and add the “runs created above average” (RBAT according to BR), he still was worth 1 and a half wins above average (!) over those 3 years. One can discount defensive metrics, as they do have their problems (if you look at just the brute number of balls he is turning into outs, or range factor, he has been below average in left field over the last 2 years), but he does provide some positional flexibility. He can play 3rd, which is good considering Arizona had problems with that position last year and have traded away both Ryan Wheeler and Chris Johnson now, along with left-field and has even subbed in at shortstop and 1st base on occasion over the last two years. Even if he isn’t a great fielder, if he can hold his own at several different positions, like say a Zobrist or a Bonafacio, he provides quite a bit of value. With that said, one of the reasons the Diamondbacks made this trade was because of a created logjam in the outfield. So Prado probably won’t play much left field, and the Diamondbacks did sign Eric Chavez. Chavez is unreliable thanks to platoon and injury issues, but he is a decent player. The Diamondbacks could see him as more of a pinch hitter, which should help Chavez stay healthy. With the bat, he simply isn’t as good as Upton, and he is 4 years older, but this isn’t a 1 for 1 trade. I don’t think Prado is actually better than Upton, but that is why the Diamondbacks received some minor league players as well.

Randall Delgado was nearly a Cub in the middle of the season, before Ryan Dempster declined a trade. A 22 year old (will turn 23 before Spring Training begins), Delgado has been given 24 big league starts (127.2 innings) and hasn’t been spectacular (or even quite average, with a negative WAA and 113 FIP -), but he has held his own. The lack of strikeouts could be a little concerning, but he is getting ground-balls. He has a good fastball, averaging 92.5 MPH, actually throwing many moving fastballs (not surprising when you look at the ground-ball rate) reaching up to about 97 MPH. Many seemed surprised that the Diamondbacks didn’t get Julio Teheran in the trade, as he is the better prospect with perhaps a better fastball (averaging 92.8 MPH, reaching 96 MPH), but Teheran really struggled in 2012. Delgado also throws a healthy amount of changeups and curveballs, both reasonably hard with the changeup being the big strikeout pitch for Delgado. Since 2007, out of the 286 pitchers that have thrown at least 200 changeups, Delgado gets the 13th most whiffs out of swings on his changeup (Blake Beavan is last, King Felix is 39th). So he clearly has a good fastball and a big strikeout pitch, but his curve is lacking, as his curve is 202th in whiffs/swings since 2007, between Jo Jo Reyes and Randy Wolf. Delgado’s ability to develop a 3rd pitch, whether it is the curve or something else, will determine whether or not he becomes more than an averagish starter. But for now, the Diamondbacks get an okay cheap young starter with the potential to get better.


I wrote about Zeke Spruill here, so there is no reason to repeat myself when it comes to him. He seems to be pretty close to the Majors, but he doesn’t have great stuff, so his ceiling will be very low. While he may be able to keep himself in the Majors for a while, he isn’t going to be an impact pitcher. Despite some decent numbers in the minors, I wasn’t impressed with his breaking stuff, so a pessimist might say he becomes a long man/low leverage reliever/swingman. He will get some ground-balls, but he won’t strikeout a lot of hitters.

According to the data I collected here, Nick Ahmed, a former 2nd round pick who will turn 23 in Spring Training, was the best minor league shortstop according to FRAA in 2012 and he was the 2nd best (out of 116) according to Range Factor. He is also a good baserunner, as he was 19th best according to Speed Score and stole 40 bases. The question is the bat, as StatCorner rated his power as below average and he had a 104 wOBA +, which is above league average, but not overly impressive when he hasn’t even reached AA yet. He played in a slightly pitcher friendly park, but not extreme. He isn’t quite highly as rated as Nick Franklin is (more on that later), but there is a lot to like about his profile, and he doesn’t have to become a great hitter, he just needs to be adequate.

Brandon Drury is a 20 year old right-handed infielder that has mainly played 3rd base since being drafted in the 13th round in 2010 by the Braves. Defensively, he is clearly below average and may have to move to first long term (he has already played significant time there). This may be bad news for Drury, as though he was young for the level, he was considerably worse than league average offensively, not hitting for much power or average (nor walking very much). There aren’t a lot of reasons to expect Drury to amount to much.

So how does this deal compare to the one the Mariners and Diamondbacks concocted? The first thing you notice is the lack of big league players. The Mariners were going to give up Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Nick Franklin, and Taijuan Walker. All of these players were at least in AA in 2012, unlike the Braves trade. I was not a fan of this trade for the Mariners. While Pryor and Furbush are relievers, they are both good relievers, and the Mariners were giving up their 2nd best position player prospect, and their best pitching prospect (who is a top 20 and perhaps top 10 prospect in all of baseball). The Braves weren’t giving up this. Ahmed is further from the Majors than Franklin, and why there are less questions about positional certainty and the glove, there are more offensive questions. Drury appears to be nothing, while Spruill looks like a back of the rotation pitcher. While Delgado comes with a little less risk than Walker and is further along in his development, Walker has a better fastball and curveball and clearly has the higher ceiling. Even if the Braves had given Teheran instead of Delgado, that still doesn’t equal Walker in my opinion. I don’t think Martin Prado, as solid of a player he is, makes the difference of the upgrades of each player (especially when you factor in Chris Johnson, who seems like a serviceable player at 3rd, ideally not a starter, but provides some offensive value at the corners). The Mariners were willing to give up more than the Braves. I don’t think the Diamondbacks necessarily got embarrassed, and depending on how you value Prado, but they didn’t get the value they thought they were going to get from the Mariners.

Justin Upton rejects trade to Mariners

Justin Upton Mariners

Justin Upton Mariners

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder, Justin Upton, who has been rumored to be traded soon now for the past three years has apparently rejected a trade that would have sent him to the Seattle Mariners.

Upton has four teams on his no-trade-list, the Mariners obviously being one of them. There is no word right now as to who the players being sent to Arizona were but a deal can always resurface. No-trade clauses have a tendency to be bought out or renegotiated and are used as leverage for more money or additional years being added to a contract.

Upton would have been a nice addition to an already crowded outfield, though not very good, and would have become one of the most talented players on the Mariners roster.

I’m sure we’ll hear plenty more details over the night and the rest of the week.

Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke, Nick Swisher, Justin Upton


The Mariners would like to add Josh Hamilton. The majority of Mariners fans would love for the team to add Josh Hamilton. The pending deal between Zack Grienke and the Los Angeles Dodgers could potentially put that into the “unlikely to happen category.” With Greinke not going to the Mariners’ divisional rival, Texas, the Rangers could use the money they planned on improvng their rotation on bringing back their most productive hitter from 2012.

Various sites have reported that Justin Upton is still more of a target for the Rangers in a possible trade involving a few possible teams. The Mariners also being one team mentioned to try to make that a reality. If the Rangers do or don’t seriously intend on bringing back Hamilton is not known. What is known is that with Greinke heading to the other Los Angeles team, a window has opened and it’s now the Rangers move to make.

If Nolan Ryan and the Texas front office don’t show Josh Hamilton they are serious then it’s likely that the former MVP will be wearing another uniform as early as this week. I’d put my money on this getting done sooner, rather than later. If it’s a Mariners jersey isn’t a sure thing, but a strong thing, that could happen, maybe. Pretty much if you’re a Mariner fans that wants the team to add the best free agent bat available, you’re rooting for the Rangers to add an outfielder via trade.

Now, if Hamilton signs with any team not located in Seattle, that leaves Nick Swisher as the most likely candidate to replace him as the team’s top priority. Unless a trade is something that Jack Zduriencik is focusing on more. I would love to be a fly on that mans wall. Not his bedroom or bathroom walls, just his office wall. The beauty of Swisher is that he would be a cheaper option for the Mariners, yet provide almost as much individual statistical impact as Hamilton. The Mariner were reported to be offering Hamilton between $20-25 million per season. Swisher would come at a more modest $15 million, leaving more money for an extra move. Or not, if the team doesn’t want to go all-out with this seasons payroll.

Zack Greinke signing with the Dodgers may actually be the best case scenario. He leaves the Angels, avoids another team in the Mariners’ division, Texas, and if Josh Hamilton isnt wanted by the Rangers, regardless of if he comes to Seattle or not, it will be a little easier to win ballgames in the ALWest.

Mariners Trade Rumors July 18


Mariners Trade Rumors!

For many baseball fans this is the time of the year they find most exciting. It’s the season within a season, the trade rumor season. July is a month when team in contention pray their team acquires that one piece that will carry them to the World Series. For teams such as the Mariners; one hopes to unload an unwanted burden (Chone Figgins), and pick up some pieces that can truly help the team contend in 2013 or 2014.

Four days ago we wrote about the Mariners that were the most likely trade candidates. The players mentioned in those rumors still remain likely to be gone in the next two weeks.

Mariners Trade Rumors July 14


What has changed since then is pretty significant. Jay Buhner said he would vomit if management extends a contract offer to Ichiro for multiple years, even if it is at half his current salary.

Different stories are floating around on the subject. Some say the organization already knows they will be aiming at locking up Ichiro for at least two more years.

Another claims the front office has the same mentality as Buhner.

Dave Cameron wrote an amazing piece on Ichiro and why the team should celebrate his past accomplishments with the team and show him the door. Which I agree with 100%.


Justin Upton became an almost certainty to be traded. If not in July, then during the offseason, reports Bob Nightengale.

Would Upton be a good fit in Seattle? I, as many Mariner fans would agree – Upton would be a significant upgrade over Ichiro. He’s signed through 2015, right around when the Mariners should start contending for the AL West. Upton would cost the Mariners at least one, if not two of their “untouchables” (Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero, James Paxton, Danny Hultzen and Taijuan Walker).


The Diamondbacks and Mariners have already had discussions about possibly bringing SS Stephen Drew to Seattle. Again, talks are held up because the Mariners refuse to deal one of the Super 6. But this could all just be a rumor. Let’s face it, a SS who hit’s .269 with 15 HR in a good season won’t make the Mariners a contender. That’s a deal where the Mariners stand their ground and maybe give up lesser talent. Not to mention Drew has had a miserable last year and a half.

Brendan Ryan and a lesser minor leaguer sounds about right.


Lastly, Carl Crawford. Boston is reportedly shopping the outfielder. His trade value is at an all-time low now as he just returned from another injury. Crawford was rumored to be involved in a deal that would have brought Boston SS Hanley Ramirez and closer Heath Bell. That rumor was squashed almost immediately.

What would it take to get Crawford in a sea-foam green Mariners uniform? Although his stock is low, the Mariners would be forced to part with at least one of the three top pitchers in the minor leagues. A package of either Walker/Hultzen/Paxton and more would have to be put on the table and I doubt Jack Z would even consider trading for an outfielder that could end up on the DL for another long stretch.


ESPN seems to only cover the Mariners when they throw a combined no-hitter, get a perfect game thrown against them or when Felix Hernandez’s name is mentioned in trade talks. David Shoenfield thinks it’s time to trade Felix (No way David!).

David explains his logic here. And a possible trade scenario with the St. Louis Cardinals can be seen below.

So who do the Mariners call? There is one team that clearly matches up: the St. Louis Cardinals. They have depth and prospects; they are in win-now mode, they need Hernandez and they can afford to take on the $39.5 million owed to him in 2013 and 2014 with some high-priced players coming off the books. The Mariners ask for:

    • Outfielder Oscar Taveras, Keith Law’s No. 8 midseason prospect, is a 20-year-old hitting .332/.381/.593 in Double-A with just 46 strikeouts in 334 at-bats. As Keith wrote, “His bat still profiles as star caliber in right.”
    • The Cardinals don’t have room for Matt Adams with Lance Berkman and Allen Craig. Adams is a 23-year-old lefty masher hitting .362/.390/.684 with 14 home runs in 174 at-bats at Triple-A Memphis (although just .244/.286/.384 in 27 games with the Cards). Alternatively, include Craig — hitting .296/.364/.577 with the Cardinals — instead of Adams.
    • Shelby Miller was one of the top pitching prospects entering the season but has struggled in Triple-A. Keith still ranked him No. 17 overall on his update. Take a chance on that arm.
    • Tyrell Jenkins is another power righty with big upside, a guy who just missed Keith’s top 50 list. OK, maybe that’s getting a little greedy.


If the Mariners do make a move, it’ll be yet another setup for contention in 2014. Kevin Millwood, Brendan Ryan, Jason Vargas, Brandon League, Ichiro and Franklin Gutierrez are all top trade candidates and could be moved for prospects or someone the team knows they can lock up for the long-term.

Let’s just hope the Mariners don’t do anything to upset Buhners stomach.

Check back regularly for the latest in the Mariners trade rumor carousel.

Mariners Trade Rumors July 14

Brendan Ryan could be an Atlanta Brave soon

Brendan Ryan could be an Atlanta Brave soon

The Mariner that is most likely to be dealt in the next few weeks, maybe even days is SS Brandan Ryan. The Braves are rumored to be very interested given Ryan is only making $1.75M and is one of the best defenders in the MLB. – Olney

Justin Upton rumors have swirled each offseason the past few years. Now they are heating up during the July trade deadline. The Mariners are expected to be interested but may be one of four teams on Upton’s no-trade list. Also, any chance of Upton wanting to remain with the Mariners longterm seems slim. – Geoff Baker

The Mariners are said to have made Felix Hernandez, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Nick Franklin untouchable. – Ken Rosenthal

Jason Vargas, Kevin Millwood, Brandon League, Miguel Olivo and the previously mentioned Brendan Ryan should all generate interest from other clubs.


David Pauley has returned to the Mariners. Pauley was a piece in the Doug Fister trade with Detroit. In 145 innings with Seattle, Pauley has a 3.35 ERA.

Mariners 30th round selection, Mike Yastrzemski was offered a $300k signing bonus, per Peter Gammons. Yastrzemski chose to return to Vanderbilt to complete his degree. Of course, he is the son of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski.


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