Braves Trade Retrospective: Justin Upton, Chris Johnson for Martin Prado and Prospects

J. Meric

Frank Wren has to be happy about the early returns on last winter's blockbuster deal.

On January 24, 2013, the Braves and Diamondbacks worked out one of the bigger deals of the past half-decade. Justin Upton and Chris Johnson were sent to Atlanta in exchange for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Zeke Spruill, Nick Ahmed and Brandon Drury.

Halfway through the first season of the trade, and the Braves have to be feeling pretty good about how things have gone down. Here is a recap of what each player involved in the deal has done with his new club thus far, as well as what his future likely holds.

Justin Upton: .241/.351/.455, 122 wRC+, 1.4 WAR

There's been a mixed bag of results for J-Up thus far. After setting the world on fire in April, he's really come back down to earth the past two months. He still ranks among the better hitting outfielders in the National League and should only get better as he reaches his prime. Upton is currently dealing with a hand issue, and if recent history is any indication, the Braves will make sure he's 100 percent before returning on an everyday basis.

The simple fact is that the Braves acquired the best player available in the deal, and they will likely reap the benefits for years to come.

Chris Johnson: .319/.358/.471, 129 wRC+, 0.6 WAR

Johnson was seen as basically a throw-in in the trade. Prior to the deal being finalized, I'm not sure his name was even mentioned or rumored by any of the national writers. Johnson's bat has been a pleasant surprise, leading the team in batting average and ranking third in slugging behind only Evan Gattis and Jordan Schafer. Given Juan Francisco's shortcomings at the plate in April and May, it's tough to envision the lineup right now without Johnson being at least a semi-regular.

Where Johnson's hurt the club is with his glove. He came into Atlanta ranking as the worst defensive third baseman in baseball the past few seasons and he's been awful this year. Anything not hit directly at him usually gets past him, and he's usually subbed out by the seventh or eighth inning.

At the end of the day, Johnson has been a cheap, serviceable player who should be able to bridge the Braves to whoever their new third baseman is in 2014 or 2015.

Martin Prado: .241/.292/.348, 69 wRC+, -0.8 WAR

Prado has been one of the worst players in baseball this season. For a guy who was always a consistent, steady force for the Braves, his struggles have been pretty eyeopening. Blame it on a bit of bad luck, feeling the pressure of living up to a new contract or just a slow start, Prado has been nothing like the player he was in Atlanta.

Hey, at least he's gritty.

In all seriousness, Prado's far too good of a player to continue producing like this. Look for him to pick it up in the second half of the year.

Randall Delgado: 64 IP, 2-5, 5.91 ERA in Triple-A; 14 IP, 0-1, 4.50 ERA in the Majors

The Diamondbacks probably could've had either Delgado or Julio Teheran in the deal if they really pushed for either. Delgado has been pretty bad so far, getting torn apart in the minor leagues while reportedly not handling his demotion too well. He pitched pretty well in his season debut against the Marlins, but got hit around by the Reds over the weekend.

Delgado's ceiling moving forward is likely as a No. 3 starter. The Diamondbacks have plenty of young pitchers on their staff and it may be tough for Randall to lock down a slot moving forward. If Arizona needs to add a piece or two before the deadline, I wouldn't be surprised to see Delgado on the trading block once again.

Zeke Spruill

Spruill began the season in Double-A and pitched well, earning a quick promotion to Triple-A. He pitched decently over nine starts, posting a 4.06 ERA while continuing to not walk or strikeout many batters. Spruill was recently promoted to Arizona and worked 2 1/3 innings out of the bullpen over the weekend.

Given his lack of swing-and-miss stuff, it appears Spruill is likely destined to be a reliever in the big leagues moving forward.

Nick Ahmed

After breaking out last season in Lynchburg, Ahmed, 22, has been pretty terrible during his first few months in Double-A. He's batting .182/.243/.254 in over 250 plate appearances, and he's stolen just seven bases after swiping 40 in 2012. Ahmed's glove is good enough that he could reach the Majors one day, but unless he really turns it on in a hurry, most will consider his first year in Double-A a failure.

Brandon Drury

Drury is still incredibly raw as a prospect, but he's having a fine season in A-Ball as a 19 year old with a .310 average and a .898 OPS. A promotion to High-A could come once the All-Star Game rolls around.

He's still years away from even getting a shot at the big leagues, but it appears he will be a legitimate prospect for the D-backs moving forward. If there's a player the Braves regret dealing in this trade, Drury is the most likely candidate.

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