Atlanta Braves Should Trade From Strength To Create A Dynamic Outfield

Updated: January 24, 2013

The Atlanta Braves are rumored to be in on Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton for their Left Field vacancy.  ESPN Insider Buster Olney, who knows pretty much everything about Major League Baseball, tweeted that “The Diamondbacks have been reviewing the Braves’ offer for Upton; some folks involved feel like it’s a strong offer.”  That’s great news for Braves fans, players, coaches and administrators.  The deal would put the younger Upton in a talanted outfield trio with his older brother BJ and Jason Heyward.  The three players would combine to give the Braves a very good, deep lineup, though without a leadoff hitter.  Here’s a look at the Opening Day Lineup as I would construct it with McCann likely moving up as he proves his health:

  1. Martin Prado (3B)
  2. Jason Heyward (RF)
  3. Justin Upton (LF)
  4. Freddie Freeman (1B)
  5. BJ Upton (CF)
  6. Brian McCann (C)
  7. Dan Uggla (2B)
  8. Andrelton Simmons (SS)

I have to think that Justin Upton would put the Braves on par with the Nationals, but at what cost?  Apparently, earlier in the offseason the Braves laughed in the faces of the Diamondbacks when they asked for promising shortstop Andrelton Simmons.  The deal as currently constructed appears to be centered around Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado and a few other prospects.  That type of deal would maintain the Braves deep pitching system as they’ve got a number of guys who show serious talent making their way to the big leagues.  The names J.R. Graham, Sean Gilmartin, Zeke Spruill, and Luke Simms should be familiar to Braves fans by this time next year as they represent the next wave of pitching coming towards Atlanta.

The Braves should trade from this position of strength to assemble an outfield trio that may rank among the best in the past 20 years.  Because of the power and speed combination of all three of these guys, it should also be one of the more unique skill sets in the big leagues.  Jason Heyward should be a perrenial 20 home run, 20 stolen base threat with room to grow in the power department.  BJ Upton is a 20 homer, 40 steal type of player.  Justin is a bit more of a question mark.

If his 2011 season is any indication as to the type of player he will be with Atlanta, the team has to be excited.  Upton mashed 31 homers and stole 21 bases while finishing 4th in the MVP voting.  Then last year, amongst trade rumors, those totals dropped 17 and 18 respectively.  J. Upton maintained his .280 average and continued to post OBP’s in the .350s that should make his older brother jealous.  Either way, the talent for Upton to be a 40 homer, 20 steal type of player is there.  He’s still just 25.

If your adept at math, and have been reading carefully, the outfield numbers could be impressive.  We’re talking about the potential for the three players to steal 80 bases and hit 80 homers.  That’s really good.

Further, BJ and Justin have expressed a desire to play together and if their marriage in Atlanta comes to fruition, Justin may be interested in staying in Atlanta long term.

Potential for the Braves this coming season is great even without the Justin Upton addition.  However, I love how they have handled the situation and waited for the asking price of Upton to come down so as to not mortgage the future for a player that the Diamondbacks have inexplicably fallen out of love with.  Bottom Line: Upton+Upton+Heyward=Sean excited.

-Sean Morash

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