The Mets Equivalent in Upton Prospects

If you haven’t heard the Diamondbacks traded Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves for Martin Prado and a uninspiring collection of younger players. It’s a pretty baffling trade from Arizona’s perspective.

Prado was the better player than Upton in 2012, posting a career-best 5.4 bWAR compared to Upton’s 2.1 bWAR in a year when he was hampered by a messed up thumb. Except of course, teams are not trading baseball cards and last year’s production, but for future production and contracts. Upton, who will turn 26 in August 2013, is under contract for three more years, and certainly could produce like a superstar again, you know, like he did in 2011. Prado, who turned 29 last October, will be eligible for free agency after 2013.

Is Martin Prado enough value for Upton and 3B Chris Johnson? Of course not. How about the rest of the package Atlanta is sending to the desert? We’ll play a little game here and try to find the closest player under Mets’ team control for the package that Atlanta sent to Arizona.

 

Martin Prado
Closest Met in 2012 value: David Wright (6.7 bWAR).
Career comments: Wright is a year older, and has been better over the course of the two players’ careers. Wright is a .301/.381/.506 hitter, but has slugged .500 or better just once in the last four years after exceeding the mark in each of his first five seasons. Prior to 2012, Wright had failed to reach 3 bWAR in each of his previous three seasons while Prado, since becoming a regular at age 25 in 2009, had put up bWARs of 2.8, 4.9, 1.8 and 2012′s 5.4. There is of course, the wildly disparate contract situation with Wright under contract at $134 million through 2020.

 

Randall Delgado
Closest Met in 2012 value: Dillon Gee

Gee                     Delgado
R/9              4.60                        4.66
ERA+            94                          92
IP                  109.2                      92.2

Delgado will turn 23 in February, while Gee will be 27 in April. Again, Gee is a solid back-end starter. Delgado is a tick worse, but is younger, and throws a little harder, averaging 92 mph last year to Gee’s 90.2.

 

Nick Ahmed
Closest Mets farmhand: SS Wilfredo Tovar
Ahmed, who the Braves drafted in the second round in 2011 out of the University of Connecticut, is a gifted defensive shortstop. That earned him the Tovar comparision. Ahmed hit .269/.337/.391 while going 40-for-50 stealing bases in the advanced-A Carolina League in 2012.  Tovar does not run as much (he was 12-for-19 in 65 FSL games) but outhit Ahmed in their time in advanced-A in 2012 putting up a .284/.377/.385 line in St. Lucie while turning 21 in August. Tovar finished the year by hitting .254/.308/.332 in 57 games for AA Binghamton. Ahmed struck out in 18% of his advanced-A at bats in 2012, while Tovar whiffed in 7%, and 8.2% in all of his 2012 plate appearances including AA. Tovar walked in 11% of his advanced-A plate appearances compared to Ahmed’s 9%. Again, advantage Tovar. Given the low-power profile the two guys share, that’s a huge disparity in strikeout rate. Ahmed’s only offensive advantage is speed.

 

Zeke Spruill
Closest Met Farmhand: Cory Mazzoni
The Braves drafted Spruill in the second round out of Marietta, GA in 2008, while the Mets plucked Mazzoni in the second round in 2011 out of North Carolina State. Both turned 23 last fall, and ended their 2012 seasons in AA. Spruill was repeating the level, after splitting 2011 between advanced-A and double-A, which was Mazzoni’s path in 2012.

Mazzoni           Spruill
AA ERA                3.72                   3.57
AA K/9                 6.2                      5.3

Keith Law sees three average pitches in the lanky Spruill (6’5″, 190lbs) but not the stamina or bat-missing ability to start. I have the same concerns, durability and too few strikeouts about Mazzoni, who stands 6’1″ 190.

 

Chris Drury
Closest Met: ???
Drury hit .229/.270/.333 as a 19-year old 1B/3B in the South Atlantic League in 2012.

Pick your favorite non-prospect outside of the Mets top-50 to match here.

 

Conclusion

I love this deal for Atlanta. They will miss Prado, but Upton could be a top-five player in the league – just as he looked like he was becoming two years ago.

As far as the Mets and Diamondbacks, finding a match, well, that’s a different problem. The Diamondbacks got a useful piece in Prado, who would have been the Mets’ best position player in the last few years not named David Wright. Obviously, the Mets weren’t going to move Wright for Upton (although if that was an option, yes, they should have considered it).

That left the Diamondbacks looking for value off the Mets big league roster. Once they asked for Zack Wheeler, the Mets walked away, per Jon Heyman. Creating a package around Wheeler for Upton would have been an entirely reasonable move for the Mets. It would have made the team more expensive, and pushed the team closer to contention in 2013-2015. However, the front office chose to save their prospect value – a different if also reasonable move.

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