• Braves Signing Upton Hurts Twins' Trade Options

    Minnesota Twins fans finally have a mildly good reason to push the panic button.

    It wasn’t that Scott Baker was leaving the team – without an option year, his value the year after Tommy John isn’t particularly meaningful. It certainly isn’t that (gasp) other free agent starting pitchers are signing elsewhere – especially when only a handful have changed teams and there are an inordinate number of good starting pitchers on the market. And MOST OF ALL it isn’t that the Twins have dared to sign minor leaguers, which is business as usual for this time of year.

    But if you want to push it, go ahead. Because yesterday, the Atlanta Braves agreed to terms for center fielder BJ Upton. For Twins fans hoping for long-term upgrades to the Twins starting pitching staff, this is the worst news this offseason.

    The Braves have plenty of young (and affordable) pitching like that, and were in the market for 1) a center fielder and 2) right-handed power. What’s more, they had to be affordable, since the Braves are working on a corporate (inflexible) budget. Both Denard Span AND Josh Willingham had been floated in rumors from the Braves media entities, and it wasn’t out of the question that they could be attempting a blockbuster deal for both.

    Upton IS both. He’s a centerfielder, who hits right-handed and has hit 51 home runs over the last two years. And they got him for about $14M/year, which is just a couple of million more than Span and Willingham would have cost. Upton was the linchpin of the offseason for the Braves; he was the one player available to fill both needs at a reasonable price without trading away their starting pitching.

    The Twins and their fans will need to take solace in the cliché of the other broken-hearted: there are lots of other fish in the sea. There are. The Rays will need to replace Upton, the Phillies are actively courting center fielders and the Reds have been mentioned as a possible landing place for months.

    But the Braves represented the big one that got away. They were the single best option this offseason when trading for major-league-ready, affordable, young, top-half-of-the-rotation starting pitching. If the Braves had missed out on Upton, the Twins and Braves would have made stunningly good fits for each other. Without them interested, the Twins didn’t just lose one name from the “demand” side of the equation, they also lost their best trading partner.

    But at least Twins fans have found a reason to push the panic button in 3 …. 2 .... 1 ….

    This article was originally published in blog: Braves Signing Upton Hurts Twins' Trade Options started by John Bonnes
    Comments 53 Comments
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Span represents an upgrade in center for about 15 teams in the MLB, given his WAR/$$$ ratio. One other CF moving from one of those teams to another doesn't change anything. Now the Rays rather than the Braves are on the list of potential trading partners. Why the panic button?
      By the way, the Rays are the better trading partner, as they are rumored to be shopping both Shields and Hellickson.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Span represents an upgrade in center for about 15 teams in the MLB, given his WAR/$$$ ratio. One other CF moving from one of those teams to another doesn't change anything. Now the Rays rather than the Braves are on the list of potential trading partners. Why the panic button?
      By the way, the Rays are the better trading partner, as they are rumored to be shopping both Shields and Hellickson.
      They also have Jennings, who can both play CF and bat leadoff if they believe he will develop. So I'm not sure if TB is really better trading partners.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Upton was going to be the first guy to sign, and once that happened, everyone had to re-adjust. As many have said, there are still teams that could be interested in Span. My guess is that Bourn will need to sign first. Also, the Braves are still a possibility for both Span and Willingham since they're planning to move Martin Prado into 3B from left field.
    1. Twins Twerp's Avatar
      Twins Twerp -
      If Bourn doesn't sign in Washington, could Span be in their crosshairs. I would think the Nationals would bolster the best outfield in baseball with Span, Werth, something called Bryce Harper. Yikes.

      I see the Reds as a legit team to deal with. If we could pull away a pitchin prospect and a SS I would be giddy with excitement. Pick one of: Cingrini(LH), Stephenson, or Corcino...and pair him with: Cozart, Hamilton, or Gregorius. Twins could throw in someone like Joe Benson or some other OF prospect not named Arcia, Hicks, or Buxton (or Rosario who may still end up in the OF).

      Boom!!! Deal done son
    1. B Richard's Avatar
      B Richard -
      Panic? No.

      The Bravos were the most appealing trade partner, but certainly not the only one capable of providing what the Twins are after. I know it's been pointed out already, but it's important to remember that one fewer CF on the open market should increase Span's relative value. Other teams may start to become more desperate- something that benefits the Twins greatly.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      How does Upton deserve 15M a year...seriously? He's gotten steadily worse in CF, his OBP was sub .300 last year, he hasn't reached a .250 BA in 5 years.

      Yeah, he's averaged 25Hr over the last two years and stolen some bases, but really? 15M a year?

      WOW!
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      How does Upton deserve 15M a year...seriously? He's gotten steadily worse in CF, his OBP was sub .300 last year, he hasn't reached a .250 BA in 5 years.

      Yeah, he's averaged 25Hr over the last two years and stolen some bases, but really? 15M a year?

      WOW!
      Joe Mauer at $23m per year doesn't look so bad when teams are giving $15m to 2.5 WAR players.
    1. SeanS7921's Avatar
      SeanS7921 -
      Upton is a great deal for the Braves. They get his Prime years 28-32 he hit 28 HRS and stold 31 bases while playing solid defense. He didn't take pitches last year but has in the past. If that OBP goes back up very good performer.
      I don't get how the Braves needed LOW salary though? 15 million isn't bad for Upton but it's still a lot of money. They wanted Span and Willingham together? That's the only way it's even close to 15 million they just shelled out and the years are off on that.
      I doubt Span has that much value. They guy is always hurt and has no power. Solid year last year but again he was hurt. The two years before that big time question marks. Obviously what's being offered for him isn't that great at this point.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by SeanS7921 View Post
      Upton is a great deal for the Braves. They get his Prime years 28-32 he hit 28 HRS and stold 31 bases while playing solid defense. He didn't take pitches last year but has in the past. If that OBP goes back up very good performer.
      I don't get how the Braves needed LOW salary though? 15 million isn't bad for Upton but it's still a lot of money. They wanted Span and Willingham together? That's the only way it's even close to 15 million they just shelled out and the years are off on that.
      I doubt Span has that much value. They guy is always hurt and has no power. Solid year last year but again he was hurt. The two years before that big time question marks. Obviously what's being offered for him isn't that great at this point.
      Upton isn't a bad deal by any means. It's not a particularly good deal, either. He could rebound or he could continue to fade into his 30s. He doesn't get on base and that's a HUGE checkmark against him going forward.

      Like many others, you're drastically underrating Span. The dude plays good defense at a premium position and gets on base 36% of the time. His lowest WAR in the past five years is 1.5 with most seasons bouncing between a 2.5 and 4+ WAR. That's a damned good player, doubly so if you have him locked up for three more seasons at a combined price of $20m (ie. 1 1/2 years of BJ Upton's new contract).

      Upton has 4000 PAs and a 13.6 WAR. Denard has 2700 PAs and a 16.5 WAR.

      edit: Interesting that FanGraphs doesn't like Span as much as BBRef while it loooooves Upton. Upton's career WAR is 23 and Span's 16 according to FG.

      Either way, the two are comparable players (they just go about getting there very differently), only Span is less than half the price.
    1. darin617's Avatar
      darin617 -
      The Braves should still have interest in Span. They still lack a leadoff hitter and could put him in LF.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by darin617 View Post
      The Braves should still have interest in Span. They still lack a leadoff hitter and could put him in LF.
      Upton would move to left, and they still have interest, but the Twins have reportedly been asking for Mike Minor or Kris Medlen.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Given their frugality, and that they just added 15million to their payroll, do you all really think they will add Span?
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Given their frugality, and that they just added 15million to their payroll, do you all really think they will add Span?
      Not now that he was traded for a minor league pitcher, but the Braves have $25-35M to play with.
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