Now that Arizona outfielder Justin Upton has rejected a trade to the Mariners – Seattle was one of four teams on his no-trade list – and the Rangers reportedly moved on from Upton after deciding the price was too high, maybe the Braves have more leverage and could pull off a trade for the second Upton brother (ATL already has center fielder B.J.) without giving up such a bevy of young talent as Seattle agreed to part with.
But unless the Braves get the younger Upton for less than what Arizona GM Kevin Towers was asking earlier this offseason – Towers sought a package centered around shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who the Braves won't trade – then Braves GM Frank Wren seems willing to go to spring training with the players they have now and see how things shake out before determining whether a big addition is necessary.
Justin Upton, 25, is signed for three more years – he's owed $38.5 million over that period – and showed his huge potential in 2011 by hitting .289 with career-highs of 31 homers, 88 RBIs and an .898 OPS, finishing fourth in the NL MVP race. But that was sandwiched between 17-homer seasons with fewer than 70 RBIs.
Also, the younger Upton has an alarming disparity in his home/road splits — a .924 OPS at hitter-friendly Chase Field and .670 OPS on the road last season, and for his career a .937 OPS at home and .731 on the road.
Still, the talent is tantalizing and the thought of an fleet-footed outfield of Upton, Upton and Jason Heyward is intriguing. That trio could reasonably be expected to combine for 80-90 homers and perhaps 70-75 stolen bases.
Are the Braves prepared to give up a bounty for Upton that would put a dent in the team's farm system and probably cost them at least one or two solid young pitchers? That remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, part of the reason Wren says he'd be willing to go to camp with what he has is Evan Gattis, aka "El Oso Blanco" (The White Bear), a nickname he got in the Venezuelan Winter League while pounding 16 homers (tied for the league lead) in 195 at-bats and hitting .303 with a .365 OBP and league-high .595 slugging percentage.
If Braves don't add an Upton, Gattis could get look in LF
Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Jan 11