The Braves are fielding offers for outfielder Justin Upton. He seems to be the next chip to get the Braves more talent in an organization hungry for more quantity and quality.
San Diego, Cincinnati, Texas, Boston and Seattle have all been rumored to be interested in Upton, who has one more year left on his contract.
The team that perhaps has the talent that bests matches up with the Braves is the Mariners, the team that actually traded for Upton two years ago only to have him nix the deal.
Seattle would have traded Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor to the Diamondbacks for three years of Upton’s services. But since Upton had a limited no-trade clause in his contract, he vetoed the trade.
The Mariners are no longer on Upton’s list, however, giving the Braves a chance to deal him to Seattle. The Mariners remain the best trade option for the Braves. They still seek a power hitter, with Upton on a list that includes free agent Nelson Cruz and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp.
Seattle has a pitching prospect that would fit what the Braves are doing – trying to rebuild with pitching. Walker is no longer a rookie. He exceeded the limits last season when he went over 50 innings for his career. He was 2-3 last year in eight games (five starts) with a 2.61 ERA, 31 hits in 38 innings, 11 earned runs, 18 walks and 34 strikeouts.
Walker had made three starts in 2013. He just turned 22 in August, so Walker is still very young. He’s got a mid-90s fastball and a very good slider. Baseball America rated him the 11th best prospect in baseball before last season.
The Mariners may hedge on adding Walker in a deal for a player that might only be around for one season. They may insist the Braves take James Paxton, a tall left-handed starting pitcher. Paxton is 26, so that’s his main negative. But most believe Paxton can be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. Walker would probably be the preference, but Paxton would not be a bad consolation prize.
Paxton made 13 starts last season for Seattle. He was 6-4 with a 3.04 ERA. He made three starts in 2013. Paxton has a 2.66 ERA in 98 major league innings. In the minor leagues, Paxton had a 3.53 ERA in 377.2 innings.
Many fans have clamored for the Braves to ask for D.J. Peterson, a right-handed hitting third baseman. He was drafted in the first round out of New Mexico in 2013. Peterson hit 31 home runs last season between High-A High Desert and Double-A Jackson. Since the Mariners signed Kyle Seager to a long-term contract Monday, you wonder if Peterson may be available.
To get Walker and Peterson, the Braves might have to include Evan Gattis in a deal. But would Seattle trade Peterson and Paxton for Upton and a mid-range prospect? A Gattis-and-Upton trade would be a blockbuster and probably require even more than Walker and Peterson. But it just depends on who the Braves prefer.
One Seattle reliever that stands out is Carson Smith, a 25-year-old drafted four years ago in the eighth round. Smith did not allow an earned run in his nine major league games in his debut in 2014. He had 10 strikeouts in 8.1 innings, with only two hits allowed. Smith has 40 saves in three minor league seasons, with a 2.55 ERA in 132 games. He’s struck out 193 in 155 innings pitched.
How about Upton, Gattis and Williams Perez for Walker, Paxton, Peterson and Smith? Would that work?
Either way, the Mariners have a couple of interesting pieces that could tempt Atlanta to look their way iin a trade for Upton and/or Gattis. Seattle has wanted Upton before, and if they want him again it might cost some of their good prospects.
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Is Seattle the best destination for Upton?
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