Yeah, it’s early and yeah, Justin Upton isn’t going to post Ruthian offensive stats for an entire season, but the initial results on the trade between the D-Backs and Braves isn’t exactly even. Upton is tied for the Major League lead in homers with six and is looking like a tour de force in the middle of the Braves’ batting order.
The Braves acquired Upton along with third baseman Chris Johnson from the Diamondbacks back in January in exchange for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, and prospects Brandon Drury, Nick Ahmed, and Zeke Spruill.
What made the trade particularly shocking is the confluence of Upton’s age (25), team-friendly contract ($38.5 million over the next three seasons), and his obvious skill. Players like Upton rarely become available — even more rarely at that relative cheapness — and that is becoming the case even more lately as teams work tirelessly to get their franchise superstars locked up for a long time.
Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall still thinks the trade worked out well for both teams.
“I think it’s a situation where it was a perfect situation for him actually and for us we got what we needed,” Hall stated. “I mean this was just two different teams that had two different needs and it worked out well for both, not to mention we still have four prospects that we’re going to be dealing with in the next few years.”
The reality is, the D-Backs were under no pressure to get rid of Upton. Any pressure they felt was self-imposed in their desire to construct a more “gritty” roster. This isn’t to say that the players the D-Backs acquired can’t be good, but if you ask 100 current and former GM’s if they would have made the trade from the Braves’ perspective, all 100 would say yes before you even finish your sentence. Any attempt by Arizona’s upper management to spin the Upton trade as a net positive is disingenuous.
Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.