In case you missed the news, the National League East just got tougher. The Atlanta Braves acquired outfielder Justin Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson from Arizona for third baseman Martin Prado, minor league shortstop Nick Ahmed, minor league first baseman Brandon Drury and right-handers Randall Delgado and Zeke Spruill.
Did Atlanta give up a lot? Yes, they did. Did they get a good return for their investment? Yes, they did. The deal becomes especially good when you look past the talents of the players involved.
Consider this part of the trade; the Braves sent Prado, who is 29 and a free agent after this season, to the D'backs in a deal to get his replacement, a younger and cheaper Chris Johnson and a quality outfielder that they needed to fill a hole. Plus, Upton is 26 and not eligible for free agency until 2016. So, in one fell swoop, the Braves set their outfield with a quality third outfielder and got younger at third base.
|Martin Prado, 29, heads west to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a deal unites the Upton brothers in the Atlanta outfield. (Photo: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)|
The Phillies sort of set their outfield by acquiring Delmon Young, but still have a question mark in left field in either Domonic Brown or Darin Ruf. Plus, they acquired Michael Young, 36 and a free agent following the 2013 season, to play third.
The Phillies should have looked at making a move like Atlanta made today a year or two ago. What could they have gotten if in the off-season preceding the 2011 season, they had taken Jimmy Rollins and a couple of prospects to find a young third baseman? Or what if in that same off-season, they dealt a 39-year old Raul Ibanez and some young players somewhere to find a younger player to fill a hole?
Instead, they re-signed Rollins to a pretty expensive deal and Ibanez went to the Yankees as a free agent after a decent, but uninspired season in Philadelphia.
Granted, as players older than Prado, Rollins and Ibanez wouldn't have been as much help in acquiring a player like Upton, but surely, there would have been a deal to make somewhere.
The bottom line is that the Phillies aren't pro-active in making deals as players reach contract years. They have been too complacent and have allowed their team to become an older, more injury prone team than they might have otherwise had to work with. Instead, the Phillies have packaged groups of prospects to make every deal work, and in some cases, have acquired players heading into their final season before free agency or players who are aging and nearing the end of their prime.
With every move the Nationals and Braves make, the NL East is getting tougher and the Phillies simply aren't keeping pace.