Trading Justin Upton means the Braves are in full rebuilding mode

Of the three, only B.J. Upton remains. Yikes. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Of the three, only B.J. Upton remains. Yikes. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Of the three, only B.J. Upton remains. Yikes. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Of the three, only B.J. Upton remains. Yikes. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Assuming Justin Upton has indeed been traded to the Padres for what’s being reported as a passel of prospects, what we’d figured was happening has actually happened: The Atlanta Braves have gone whole-hog into younger-and-cheaper rebuilding mode.

That’s not the worst thing they could do. The worst is to do as the Phillies have done — let a good team get old and expensive and awful — but rebuilding is never without risk. What if you can’t find players as good as the ones you just traded? (Say what you will about the inconsistencies of Jason Heyward and J. Upton, but they’re big-time talents. And also good guys. But yes, they were headed for free agency.) What if the new model never equals the old model?

Understand: This is not a rip of the Braves. I understand what they’re doing, and maybe it needed doing. I say “maybe” because, at last check, they’ve had one losing season since 2008. But it’s clear the new-but-also-old Braves hated everything Frank Wren had done with this organization, and they’re determined to build something that they regard as better and, to use a sabermetric word, sustainable.

I don’t know if they’ll succeed. Nobody knows if they’ll succeed. But this is what they’re doing, and when you do something like this — trade the corner outfielders off a team that couldn’t hit in the first place — you’re not thinking of winning next season. It will be a while before the Braves are winners again.

Addendum: Some of you have asked, “So how are you rebuilding when you sign Nick Markakis, a 31-year-old outfielder, for $45 million over four years?” I’m afraid I have no answer. That particular move stumped this band, too.

Another: The Braves finished next-to-last in the majors in runs last season. The Padres finished last. The Padres have added Matt Kemp, Will Myers and J. Upton. The Braves have subtracted J. Heyward and J. Upton.

Reader Comments 4

164 comments
JoeyMele
JoeyMele

This offseason fire sale will go down in history as the one that was caused by the abysmal play of Dan Uggla and BJ Upton. In Uggla's defense, at least he hit with some power to begin with. BJ Upton looks like a guy that got a paycheck and shows up to chew gum and argue with the umpire. He will go down in history as the worst 2nd overall pick in sports drafting. I wish we could put performance clauses in our contracts. I hope the International picks and minor league players we acquired can pan out in the future. We have a decent set of players coming through the minors. Terdo might end up being the starting 3B by season's end. He has the talent. In CF, I would rather run Bonifacio out there everyday in CF than Upton. If Upton and Uggla didn't suck so much, we would not be in rebuild mode. But, they do, and we are. 

catcher123
catcher123

How does the minor league contract for Uggla affect the contractual money that the Braves owe him?

DawgNight
DawgNight

I heard all this "rabble Rousing" about the Hawks in this off-season...Let's just slow down and see what happens!


Big Names and Big Contracts don't make winners...if you've watched sports for more than 5 years, you would understand this concept.

RON BOONE
RON BOONE

WHY IS THIS john hart EVEN HERE, HE STINKS AND scherholtz  HAS RUINED THE TEAM FOR YEARS NOW, HE MUST BE FIRED NOW ! I WON'T GO TO ANOTHER GAME UNTIL HE IS FIRED !

robo71
robo71

if they are having a fire sale shouldn't they get rid of Fredi as well? if you are truly starting over then go after a new manager with a different approach. 

RON BOONE
RON BOONE

@robo71  Correct ! freddi IS A COMPLETE JOKE AND THIS scherholtz IS DESTROYING THE TEAM, HE MUST BE FIRED NOW !

Curious_George
Curious_George

Are the Braves trading away these star players with high salaries in order to be able to free up payroll in order to be able to afford to pay BJ Upton to simply GO AWAY ?





mafalcon
mafalcon

There is always a lot of talk about the Braves needing to trade BJ Upton.  Comments are critical of the Braves for not including BJ in a deal, trading him to a certain club, etc.  Fans have opinions, but we need to keep in mind that we are fans, not baseball people.  No matter how many games we watch or how much we know or think we know about baseball, we are not in the business.  Unfortunately, baseball is a business, and business requires decisions to be made that affect the makeup of teams.  Players get traded away that fans love, and players get signed that fans immediately see as a bad move.  Sometimes we are correct.  The reason BJ is still with the Braves is that the baseball people on the various teams are running a business, and business people acquire assets and seek to reduce liabilities.  BJ is seen as a liability right now, and not an asset.  Why the Braves acquired him is a mystery and, at least up to this point, a big mistake.  His contract is so grossly enormous that no competent baseball executive is going to take him from the Braves unless and until he begins to hit consistently and produce consistently.  He has to become an asset, or he will remain a liability on the books of the Braves until his contract is mercifully over.  Same as with Uggla, Kawakami, etc.  Maybe by some miracle someone somewhere will take BJ in a trade package, but unless that miracle occurs, we are going to have to ride out this unfortunate contract. 

ShovelPlease
ShovelPlease

The Braves are in full fire sale mode, and in full free fall.  It's not going to be pretty the next few years or, perhaps, thereafter.  Even the usual attendance bump from having a new stadium isn't going to happen.  Though it resulted in only 1 championship, it was a good run while it lasted. 

Aztec
Aztec

@ShovelPlease The Braves are trading high salaries for cheap prospects.  It is the beginning of the end.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Agree Hart is not done dealing, and we don't know yet how these new players will perform. The Braves may again have reliable starting pitching and a lights-out closer, but more guys running the bases and potentially better defense depending on what they do with Gattis.


I would not be in any hurry to trade Gattis, the guy can hit and he's still affordable. If the Angels call and offer Mike Trout I'd make the deal.

BobDawg
BobDawg

Look, Hart is not done dealing AND he is not done buying. He just freed up around $15 Million and once he gets the Gattis deal done (Look, he is not an everyday outfielder or catcher) to the A. L. to DH, we will get more prospects and maybe a front line player in that deal. After that he can spend to shore up the Outfield positions.  I think we can do like the Hawks did (changing on the fly) by getting rid of Johnson; Williams and Smooth and changing from a Bomber mentality to a Hitting for average and moving runners along and Speed… 

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

@BobDawg dude they are NOT trading Gattis, are you even paying attention?  At least not this year, he's here on the cheap for 4 more years.  Hart said 2 days ago in his interview that he thought Gattis would start behind the plate next year with Bethct backing him up.

MikeS777
MikeS777

This team needed a fresh start.  They need to get rid of as many players as possible.  Clearly just getting rid of Dan Uggla was no cure as the team got no better without him in the locker room.  When you're hitting as poorly as the Braves have under Fredi Gonzalez, I don't know how you can make a case to hold on to any of them.

If it were me, I would let go of B. J. Upton just like they did Uggla.  I would also trade Evan Gattis while he is a hot prospect.  Gattis in LF is not going to be a great thing.

Now the question is, what are they going to do to address the overall hitting?  Is there going to be a serious change in philosophy, or are we going to see more bats come in here and disappear?  As you point out, Mark, these guys were talented (as were Uggla and BJ before they got to ATL).  We never saw that talent at it's potential here.

BaseballBuff
BaseballBuff

Justin's 104 RBIs were amazing, considering how few Braves got on base this past season. I am sorry to see him go, and will simply hope that management knows what it is doing.


As for the Schuerholz bashing, he is (was?) a baseball genius, the man primarily responsible for the Braves' success in the 90s. Maybe he is getting a bit old, but he has not been the reason for the Braves' problems in recent years.

RON BOONE
RON BOONE

I am done ever attending another Braves game, DONE, they need to FIRE that WORTHLESS scherholtz, who is here ONLY to collect a FAT paycheck he DOES NOT DESERVE, and terry mcgirk, WHAT A FOOL HE IS ! This team is DONE, will NEVER win for 30-40 years, long after we are all DEAD, They do not care and SURE AS HELL DO NOT WANT TO WIN, and this hart, is a complete JOKE, GET THE HELL RID OF HIM NOW, Oh... HEY hart, I see Reed Johnson is a UFA, How about 10 years $200 million, sounds like the PERFECT move for these LOSERS running the Braves, SAD to see they Do NOT WANT TO WIN AND A SORE ARM PITCHER AND JUNK, BOY THIS hart  IS WORSE THAN wren WAS, 60 WIN SEASON MAYBE, HOW TO SCORE, WALK, STOLEN BASE WILD PITCH AND GROUND OUT, BECAUSE NO TEAM WILL FEAR THIS LINEUP AND KNOWS THEY WILL NOT SCORE AGAIN, I URGE EVERYONE TO BOYCOTT MLB IN ATLANTA, THE HELL WITH BRAVES, FIRE WORTHLESS FAN HATER scherholtz !!!!!!

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

@RON BOONE Good then I should never see your idiot A__ on here again RON BAFOON right?!  And dont you know that people who go all caps are fing ignorant.. I guess not.  People like you should be ashamed of how truly ignorant you look when you try to write and spell

reckingball
reckingball

Did the Braves make out all that good, on this deal?

Maybe Fried will develop into a good starter in 2 or 3 years.

I would have liked to have seen them get a better prospect than what did.

reckingball
reckingball

Or else, if they had been able to dump BJ into the deal, and have the Padres pay 33% of  his remaining contract. That would have a good deal.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I like the moves a lot - getting value for guys that were going to walk in a year!

jonnycash
jonnycash

Since the Braves have made themselves a minor league team for 2015 I am going to Gwinnet and pay minor league prices. Come on fans don't put up with this crap. There is only one way the Braves will react is if fans don't show up.

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

John Fart is the worst thing to happen to ATL sports since Don Waddell and BIlly Knight

UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

Dang shame....the one guy they need to get rid of, they can't.

YankeeDawg
YankeeDawg

So we traded the guy who hit a HR every 20 AB's and are inserting the guy who hits one every 16.


And we signed Nick for a reasonable amount who basically has the same OBP as J-Hey.


Hart looks pretty smart.

BravesFan79
BravesFan79

Why does everyone wanna move Chris Johnson so bad?   Dude was one of our most clutch players in 2013, and had one of the top batting averages in the NL.  So what he had a off year (as did the whole team except starting pitchers).  Who are we expecting to be our new 3rd baseman.... Wade Boggs?   Mike Schmidt?    

This trade for Upton was dumb.  If we were gonna count on a pitcher coming off of Tommy John surgery we should of just kept Medlen!  


Codex
Codex

Folks, this is your Braves for the next couple years. After salary dumps/ending contracts, new team to field just in time for home opener in 2017! Sales/Marketing at its best.

GT71
GT71

@Codex  Well, duh!  When you move a team into a new stadium, a new environment, a new 'culture' if you will, you do everything you can to make sure the product is just right - alpha tested, beta tested and matured for a year - 2016 may surprise a few fans.  But 2015 wont and 2017 is the target - so they damn well better hit it!

If they don't, there will be hell to pay in Cobb County GA.

gfw
gfw

Well...the numbers next year look to be even uglier than this year, as many have predicted.  At least there's this consolation:  the Braves are no worse managed than Dimitroff's Falcons.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

The final purge of the Wren Era is how to move BJ Upton. The Braves front office seems to have already written off the 2015 season ,so why not go all in with the rebuild.Package BJ Upton with Chris Johnson and Craig Kimbrel and trade them to the Cubs for Edwin Jackson ($24 Million salary dump) Matt Szczur (CF) ,Kris Bryant (3B) #3 MLB Prospect, and Kyle Hendricks (SP) 7-2 with Cubs in 2014.

By including Kimbrel in the trade the Braves may avoid having to send cash to the Cubs to complete the deal. If the Braves are committed to rebuilding ,why not go all in and make a bold move. The Cubs want to contend in 2015 so a player like Kimbrel may be valuable enough for them to take the Upton and Johnson contracts.

GT71
GT71

@Buschleaguer  Wonderful ideas.  Not sure even a Kimbrel would take the stench out of the air, tho.

SouthernHope5
SouthernHope5

I see the Braves as being hit on several fronts:

1. While there are some folks who are ecstatic about the team's move out of the city (i.e. people who own property near the stadium) many more are upset with the decision...so anything is Braves do is tainted with suspision...there are no natural supporters out there anymore.

2. Along with that, is a sense that the corporate owners want to cut costs, accumulate assets, and then sell the team.  Moves like this feel more like a spreadsheet plus than a game-winning plus.

3. And there's a feeling that many moves are being done simply because there are different from what Wren would have done.

DavidC030668
DavidC030668

Going to see decline in Gattis, if we have to start him in LF. New position will hurt him offensively and we can ill afford to see that. Clubs will pitch around Freeman the way clubs pitched around Stanton in Miami. Probably will see decline in Freeman, too, as he will become impatient and swing at more bad pitches.

I love Kimbrel, but if we are in rebuilding mode, the only way I could see unloading BJ is in a package with Kimbrel and a three team trade. I'd have sent Kimbrel to NYY ( who were interested), Gattis and BJ to Houston, and Atlanta would receive Fowler and Gardner in return. All three teams assume 1/3 of BJ's contract.

OF would be Fowler, Markakis, and Gardner. Use the $14m we saved unloading J-up ( as well as 2/3 of BJ's contract) for power hitting 3B and one more SP. What good is Kimbrel if we never are able to get him the ball and the lead in the 9th? We could use Carpenter, Shae Simmons, and/or Johnson to close.

Not too late; pull the trigger, Hart! You have done well so far!

New Lineup:

Fowler, Gardner, Markakis, Freeman, CJ (for now),Callaspo, Simmons, Bethancourt

Thoughts? I'd go watch this team! Cheaper, younger, faster(more options..hit and run, stolen bases, etc), better defensively, and better OBP....All key components to a Hart rebuilding and we would be competitive NOW and in the near future for our new stadium, while waiting on the prospects.

Dawg69
Dawg69

@DavidC030668  Yep, pull the trigger. Unfortunately, you'll be the only guy in the stadium watching such a sorry line up.

TomGaff
TomGaff

First of all, it was wrong Upton they traded. Of course no one in their right mind takes BJ? But being completely honest(watched almost all of their games last season) my take is. Justin put up good numbers on average and Hrs, was average at best on D in LF. 180 SO's will not be missed and he did not do much when game was on line in late innings? Give Gattis a shot in LF, out from behind plate he may have a good stick with average D. At least he hustles and has good attitude! Best of all if he collides with BJ in CF on dead run, our problem with BJ may be history. Just kiddin, do not want BJ hurt, just to leave!

DohBee
DohBee

Maybe The Braves can farm Uggla out to clean hotel rooms at the New Ballpark; we're obligated to him for that long and beyond, moneywise.

robinhood999
robinhood999

Who do you think will scare other pitchers---no one---pitch around freeman.

No speed so no KC type scoring.

Maybe fewer strike outs but still where will the RBI'S come from??

No use going to the ballpark!

SeanLB
SeanLB

Our fanbase logic:  "You didn't re-sign Kris Medlen??  Are you crazy??"


"You're acquiring a young pitching prospect that just had TJ surgery??  Are you crazy??"


They don't listen to our fans.  And thank goodness for that.  

Curious_George
Curious_George

Will Craig Kimbrel be able to have a long & healthy MLB career due to all the rest his arm will get over the next 2 years by never having to come out of the bullpen for a save situation?



Curious_George
Curious_George

As Martin Prado has just joined the Marlins via a trade with the Yankees, can the Braves win enough games in 2015 to finish ahead of the Phillies in the East?



hardworkinman
hardworkinman

The Braves ranked 29th in offense last season. There are a grand total of 30 teams in baseball which means with Upton and Heyward the Braves were next to last in total offense. If you improve the pitching (which they have) and get some guys that can put the ball in play, you cannot possibly be as bad a team as last year. 

The Braves will find a centerfielder not named BJ before the season starts. Anyone that can hit over .220 will be an upgrade at that position. Gattis will hit as well as Upton did in left and can't be much worse defensively. Markakis is a wash in right. Find a second baseman that can hit better than Uggla or LaStella (again, anything over .220) and you've improved that position offensively. There will be more moves made and this team will compete. They won't be division champs in 2015, but they might well be a wild card team. With Freeman, Gattis, and Markakis anchoring the team and a solid pitching staff of both starters and bullpen, this is not a full-blown rebuild.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@hardworkinman I have to respectively disagree with you, Markakis has never hit below .280 BA in 8 seasons, with solid D. Think he only SO about 80 times last season in 155 games, almost never hurt and always plays and hustles! He will not be a problem!

Dawg69
Dawg69

@DisgustedFan @hardworkinman  "Hart is a lackey for Liberty Media?"  Let me see now ... who does he work for ... oh yeah, Liberty Media.  Gee, who else would he be a lackey for. They only pay his salary.

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

@hardworkinman 


They have not improved the pitching and let go two of the better OBP and XBH power guys n the team


Hart is a lackey for Liberty Media and his job is to fill the cash coffers for the corporate suits


Braves fans = screwed

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

@ProudtobefrmthaG 


Freddie Freeman deserves to play for a real MLB team that is half serious about winning which the Braves are not

Trackbacks

  1. […] has confirmed it as true. Justin Upton, and a played to be named later, will be playing for the San Diego Padres next season. They will be joining the new-look Padres outfield, which has also added Matt Kemp and […]

  2. […] Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution argues, once the Atlanta Braves traded Justin Upton, it became clear that the club was entering […]