About the Justin Upton Trade to the Atlanta Braves

Upton was never “almost a Mariner,” or at least we don’t know it. But he’s an Atlanta Brave now and the Mariners may be better off for it.

As a Mariners fan the last couple of weeks have been a bit trying. No matter where you fell on the Justin Upton trade that the Diamondbacks accepted, that Upton refused to approve the trade was a bit disconcerting. Many of us have a bit of an inferiority complex as Seattle rarely tops the list of any free agent’s chosen destinations, and now the same thing led to them missing out on a trade.

A pretty solid argument could be made that the Mariners are better off without Upton and with the prospects they have, and perhaps the biggest silver lining to the John Jaso for Mike Morse trade is that the team could have sold a large part of the farm system away for a volatile Upton, who while under team control boasts a pretty high salary number, and production that hasn’t met his potential. So while I think that the Morse-Jaso trade was a net loss, and a failure in talent evaluation process, chances are the value of Mike Morse and John Jaso will be relatively comparable. Upton, by contrast, has potential to create any substantial price tag into a massive overpay.

One of the reasonable possible outcomes of the trade that the Mariners proposed is for Justin Upton to be basically an unproductive player at the end of his contract, and become the functional equivalent to Delmon Young or Elijah Dukes. That’s not to say that he’s going to abuse his wife or shout anti-Semitic slurs at anyone, but he’s got attitude problems and production that may not justify dealing with those attitude problems. Maybe Lastings Milledge would have been a better analogy, but it’s too late for that now.

Another reasonable outcome is that Taijuan Walker becomes an ace, Nick Franklin becomes a big-league regular, Stephen Pryor a lights out closer, and Charlie Furbush is productive in some role.

Considering those are at both ends of the spectrum they seem unlikely, and their inverse is probably just as likely because the two outcomes aren’t correlated, the one thing I like about the Morse trade is that the range of scope of possible outcomes seems pretty narrow. Though I feel that if you drew a line at the median outcome, that the Mariners would have “lost the trade,” I feel a lot more comfortable with Morse’s track record, attitude, and ability, especially considering the team gave up only one player for him.

It seems like the general feeling is that the Diamondbacks came out a little big behind on this deal. The majority of that criticism seems to be using the Mariners trade as a point of reference. It’s not very often that we find out the entire terms of a trade that doesn’t happen, and when it doesn’t happen and we hear about it’s usually because it was the offer that lost.

From my point of view the Diamondbacks traded from a position of strength, and abundant depth, and received Martin Prado, a guy who is basically as productive as Upton but at a greater position of need, and a very decent haul of prospects. There’s a good chance that none of the prospects the Braves got ever become stars. There’s a good chance that Taijuan Walker has a better career than every prospect traded to Arizona. But Taijuan Walker wasn’t available to the Diamondbacks because Justin Upton said so.

Randall Delgado has mid-upper rotation stuff, and his sinking fastball could become a groundball machine without sapping his strikeout numbers. The rest of the prospects are fine, but perhaps not great, and Chris Johnson, the third baseman headed to the Braves has significant holes in his game.

The idea of getting Justin Upton was always intriguing, but trading a load of upper-end prospects for him was less palatable, especially if the team would have to negotiate with Upton financially to make him waive his no-trade clause.

  • maqman

    Good diagnosis Casey. I’m glad they didn’t get Hamilton as I feel the risk/cost factors were significantly out of balance. I feel the trade was an overpay for a questionable player. I’m a big Z supporter but I think he got saved from making mistakes in both cases. I understand the pressure on him to produce some positive results from the fans via those over his pay grade and would not be surprised if he isn’t disappointed too terribly about the outcome in his heart of hearts. He damn near Bavasied himself out the door. The team has improved quite a bit by cutting loose the dead wood and bringing in a couple of legitimate thumpers and the reputed second best farm system in MLB should be about ready to disgorge some major leaguers. The Angels seemed to have lost as much as they gained but should be the division favorites as so far Texas has lost some significant production and while the A’s improved a bit, with Jaso and some small bits I just don’t think they can duplicate last seasons run, but that’s nothing more than my opinion and my oracle license expired years ago.

    • http://twitter.com/CaseyMcLain34 Casey McLain

      I agree. I was listening to a guy call in on a radio show (a non-sports radio show) and talk about how being a Mariners fan sucks because all these teams in their division are spending money and getting better. There is no doubt that they are spending money, but getting better is arguable at best, and probably not true. The Angels will be more expensive this year and are objectively worse. Of course, this is a system of probabilities where we theorize the results of this season over several iterations and find the most likely outcome, and there are high points on either end that could make you and I look like geniuses or assholes, but nonetheless, you’re right in my opinion.

      • disqus_qQLhst7cBF

        gobbly gook – I will see you back here in Oct., the M’s will win 86 games this year or more.

      • http://twitter.com/CaseyMcLain34 Casey McLain

        So because I said that the Mariners are getting better and the Rangers and Angels got worse, you saying they’ll win 86 somehow disagrees with that?

  • disqus_qQLhst7cBF

    You are certainly the master at stating the obvious. However this comment is probably one of your most ignorant yet: So while I think that the Morse-Jaso trade was a net loss, and a failure in talent evaluation process, chances are the value of Mike Morse and John Jaso will be relatively comparable” There ain’t no way that Jaso’s value to the team could match the value of Morse’s to the team.

    • http://twitter.com/CaseyMcLain34 Casey McLain

      You have no quantifiable, comparative system of valuation, I’d assume.