Although this trade involved Prado (a bummer), the Braves are at least as good as they were before for 2013 and possibly a tiny bit better, but it puts the future of the MLB team in much better shape. Trading Delgado, Ahmed, Spruill, and Drury was basically trading away areas of depth, and the team kept Julio Teheran, who has a higher ceiling than all of them, along with Sean Gilmartin, the next closest pitcher in MLB-readiness, and JR Graham, a high-upside arm whose role is still undetermined.
The Diamondbacks' new strategy seems to be to trade any player that manager Kirk Gibson doesn't like, regardless of the reason. For the second time this offseason, they've made such a deal and taken less than full value in return for a player the whole industry knew the team wanted to move. At some point, they're going to have to stop blaming the players.
Joe Sheehan, from his newsletter:
The deal, which in a vacuum is a loser for the Diamondbacks, is just the latest in a stretch of transactions that has aggressively depleted the organization's talent without substantially improving the team's short-term outlook.
From just a 2013 perspective, this deal probably doesn’t move the needle that much. Both teams received one above average player, and no one else in the deal is likely to make a huge impact at the big league level this year. It’s the years after this one that will determine whether this trade was worth it for both sides.
So, in the end, the Braves had added Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Chris Johnson, while losing Michael Bourn, Martin Prado, Randall Delgado and (don't forget) Chipper Jones. They replaced backup catcher David Ross, who had a good year, with Gerald Laird, and also traded starter Tommy Hanson for reliever Jordan Walden.
2012 WAR via Baseball-Reference:
B.J. Upton: 2.6
Justin Upton: 2.1
So am I saying the Braves will be eight wins worse than the 94 they won in 2012? No. For starters, Justin Upton is likely to be much better in 2013 after playing through a thumb injury last season. The Braves also have several other positives: Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman are still young enough to improve; they get a full year of Andrelton Simmons at shortstop and we'll see if he really is the second coming of Ozzie Smith on defense; McCann could bounce back from his injury-plagued season; they'll get a full year of Kris Medlen in the rotation, a full year of Paul Maholm and a maybe full year of second-half Mike Minor instead of first-half Mike Minor.
However, until Beachy returns from Tommy John the fifth starter right now is probably Julio Teheran, who had a 5.08 ERA in Triple-A. The Braves still reportedly have $10 million left in their budget if they want to spend it, so I wonder if they'll go after one of the veteran free agents still available (Kyle Lohse may be too expensive, but maybe Joe Saunders).
The biggest problem I see is the Braves were seventh in the NL in runs scored in 2012 and have lost their three best OBP guys. They've replaced .377, .359 and .348 with .355, .326 and .298. The Braves also didn't have one starter returning who threw 200 innings last year.
All that said: I like this team a lot. There is some variability here: Heyward and Justin Upton could be MVP candidates to something far less. Medlen could be a Cy Young contender based on his amazing 12-start run last year or something far less. Minor could be a solid No. 3 or a No. 5. Can Tim Hudson, at 37 going on 38, churn out another solid season? I do see the Braves as a 95-win team. What's your take? Will the Braves improve on their 94 wins of 2012?