Either the Arizona Diamondbacks have decided RF Justin Upton’s skills will diminish awfully fast for a position player with a mere 6 professional seasons under his belt, or in the words of Beyond The Box Score’s Spencer Schneier, “the Diamondbacks must know something about Upton that the general public does not.” On Thursday morning, the D-Backs sent RF Upton to the Braves in exchange for IF Martin Prado and P Randall Delgado, and while the Arizona Republic’s Dan Bickley suggests Snakes GM Kevin Towers “will be questioned forever” if the pairing of Justin and B.J. Upton pays dividends in Atlanta, Schneier is ready to commence the questioning right now.
Justin Upton is 25 years old, making $38.5 million over the next three seasons, and has been worth 17.1 fWAR in his career. If Upton follows anything resembling the normal aging curve, then he will be one of the best players in baseball over the next three seasons, while making a shade under $13 million on average.
What sells this deal as a landslide for the Braves is that Upton is probably a better player than Martin Prado, but he is also controlled for three seasons as opposed to the one season that Prado is signed for. As fellow BtBer Matt Hunter pointed out to me, this gives Arizona a better chance to resign Prado, but I disagree because we cannot factor this into the deal because we just do not know.
To put it very literally, Arizona traded three years of a 25-year old with a good chance to post at least 3-4 fWAR per year, for one year of a 29-year old who will probably be in the 3-4 win range and the potential to add a draft pick and the slot-money that would come with that pick (as well as Delgado and other minor prospects). This is all without considering Upton’s sizeable upside, with a chance to provide a good amount of excess value of the course of this deal.