Despite growing up in a baseball-centric household, B.J. and Justin Upton had never been teammates for any significant amount of time.
Thanks to the Atlanta Braves, all of that is about to change.
The Braves, who signed B.J. Upton as a free agent earlier this offseason, scored a major coup last night when they added younger brother Justin in a seven-player trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Uptons are the latest in a long line of brother tandems to team up in the Majors and are the first since Scott and Jerry Hariston back in 2010.
Atlanta also acquired third baseman Chris Johnson in the trade while giving up utility player Martin Prado, starting pitcher Randall Delgado, and minor leaguers Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury, and Zeke Spruill.
Almost from the beginning, Justin Upton was widely regarded as one of the biggest prizes available this offseason. The top pick of the storied 2005 Draft, Justin broke into the big leagues at age 19 and was earning support for the MVP award within two years. He is coming off a somewhat disappointing season and there are some concerns that he has stopped improving, but Justin Upton is still a two-time All-Star at 25 years old and is considered among the highest-ceiling players in the game today. He is also signed to a team-friendly contract that will keep him in a Braves uniform through 2016.
He had been the subject of rampant trade rumors since before the All-Star Break and had already vetoed a trade to Seattle earlier this month.
Johnson could also prove to be a useful player, helping to fill the hole at third base in the wake of the retirement of Chipper Jones. But Justin Upton is the true prize in this deal, as he combines with his older brother and 22-year old Jason Hayward to give the Braves arguably the outfield in baseball and almost certainly its most exciting trio.
That is not to say that Justin Upton came cheap. Prado ranks among the game’s most versatile players, spending most of last year in left field but also getting starts at all four infield positions. Delgado, a righty who Baseball America ranked as the organization’s No. 3 prospect prior to the 2012 season, went 4-9 with a 4.37 ERA in a half-season with the big league club and was primed for a fulltime spot in the Braves’ rotation. The trio of prospects given up includes the organization’s best defensive infielder and a top-ten arm.
Still, Atlanta just acquired an All-Star talent who may not have reached his full potential while also filling a potential hole at third base.
This is a trade that Braves GM Frank Wren would make every single time.