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Braves, D-Backs agree on Justin Upton deal

Righty slugger headed to play with brother B.J. in Atlanta
01/24/2013 12:22 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Justin Upton is headed to Atlanta, where he'll play alongside older brother B.J.(AP)
The Atlanta Braves are officially the winners of the Justin Upton sweepstakes, with the Braves acquiring Upton from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a seven-player deal that was first reported by MLB.com on Thursday morning.

Quoting a Major League source, MLB.com reports that the Braves will acquire the 25-year-old outfielder and third baseman Chris Johnson in exchange for infielder/outfielder Martin Prado, top pitching prospect Randall Delgado, and three Minor Leaguers: infielder Nick Ahmed, first baseman Brandon Drury, and righty pitcher Zeke Spruill.

Upton hit .280 with 17 home runs, 67 RBI, and 18 steals in 150 games for the Diamondbacks last year, and is set to make just under $10 million in the fourth year of a six-year, $51.25 million deal he signed with Arizona prior to the 2010 season.

Rumors had Upton as a potential target on the Yankees' radar at various points over the last year, and used his limited no-trade clause to block a deal to Seattle earlier this winter – but instead he will now join fellow young slugger Jason Heyward and his own older brother B.J., who was signed to a five-year deal earlier this winter, in the Braves outfield.

Johnson, 28, posted a .286-7-47 line for Arizona after being acquired from Houston in late July, and was at .281-15-76 overall for the D-Backs and Astros. With Prado gone as part of the trade, Johnson will likely open the spring competing with Juan Francisco to replace Chipper Jones at third base; somewhat ironically, Johnson is a product of Stetson University – where Chipper’s father, Larry Jones Sr., played college ball – and was coached by Chipper’s godfather, Pete Dunn, while with the Hatters.

As for the package Arizona receives in return, it is headlined by the versatile 29-year-old Prado, who hit .301 with 10 homers, 70 RBI, and 17 steals for the Braves last season and made starts at all four infield spots in addition to his “regular” place in left field.

The Diamondbacks also get Delgado, 22, who is considered one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. Prior to 2012, the Panamanian righty was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 46 overall prospect, and he went 4-9 with a 4.37 ERA in 17 starts with the Braves and 4-3, 4.06 in eight starts for Triple-A Gwinnett last season.

The other three prospects are all lower Minor Leaguers, the highest being 23-year-old right-hander Spruill, who was the Braves’ second-round pick in 2008 and went 9-11 with a 3.67 ERA in 27 starts at Double-A Mississippi in 2012.

Ahmed, a 22-year-old shortstop, was the Braves’ second round pick out of UConn in 201 and hit .269 with six homers, 49 RBI, 36 doubles, and 40 steals at Class-A Lynchburg in 2012, while Drury, a 13th round pick in 2010, hit .229-6-51 for Class-A Rome.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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