Was the Original Mariners-Justin Upton Trade Better Than the Braves Deal?

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterJanuary 28, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 02:  Justin Upton #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the Colorado Rockies during the MLB game at Chase Field on October 2, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Rockies 5-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

After making Justin Upton the center of nearly every trade rumor this offseason, the Diamondbacks finally dealt the 25-year-old to the Atlanta Braves last Thursday.

But because Diamondbacks were so eager to move him, they were ultimately forced to settle for a lesser prospect package than they should have received.

Nearly two years' worth of Justin Upton-related trade rumors came to fruition on Jan. 10 when news emerged that a deal was in place to send the right fielder to the Seattle Mariners. In return, the Diamondbacks would have received top prospect Taijuan Walker, middle infielder Nick Franklin, left-hander Charlie Furbush and future closer Stephen Pryor.

However, Upton invoked the no-trade clause in his contract and blocked the deal with the Mariners, thus setting the stage for last week’s trade with the Braves.

As I mentioned in my post-trade analysis, there’s no denying that the Diamondbacks received a solid crop of prospects in Zeke Spruill, Nick Ahmed and Brandon Drury. But unlike the young players that they would have acquired from the Mariners, none are sure-fire major leaguers. Between those three players, only Spruill, a right-hander, has experience at Double-A or above.

The deal with the Mariners would have netted the Diamondbacks two top-75 prospects in Walker, who’s revered as one of the top pitching prospects in the game, and Franklin, a switch-hitting middle infielder capable of reaching the major leagues in 2013. They also would have acquired Stephen Pryor, a right-hander who touches triple digits and has the makings of a future closer.

Considering their return from the Braves, it’s surprising that the Diamondbacks didn’t push for a deal with the Rangers—even after acquiring their much-needed young shortstop, Didi Gregorius, in another blockbuster deal last month.

In theory, they still could have potentially landed a combination of left-hander Martin Perez and third baseman Mike Olt, and perhaps even right-hander Cody Buckel or shortstop Leury Garcia. While Olt and Perez both reached the major leagues last season, Buckel or Garcia are within two years of the major leagues.

Had the Diamondbacks not acquired two major leaguers in Martin Prado and Randall Delgado, then the trade would represent one of the more lopsided deals in recent memory.

At the same time, there’s still the potential for it to be remembered as such. Upton has one of the highest ceilings among all players aged-25 and under, and trading a player of that caliber at such a young age, for whatever reason, is always difficult to justify.