There has been some player movement and while this is a Cubs site, there were a few that had some connections here.
Braves acquire Justin Upton
We can officially quash any Justin Upton rumors to the Cubs as the Braves acquired their 2nd Upton of the offseason after picking up older brother B.J. Upton in free agency.
In exchange, the Braves gave up pitcher Randall Delgado, whom Cubs fans are very familiar with after the uncompleted deal for Ryan Dempster last season. They also gave up a good third baseman in Martin Prado, a pitching prospect in Zeke Sprulli, a SS prospect in Nick Ahmed, and 1B prospect Brandon Drury. The Braves also got 3B Chris Johnson in the exchange.
I call this a win for the Braves. I know Upton has the red flags but the Braves have an advantage in having his older brother there to help keep him grounded. It gives the Braves one of the more talented, under 30 OF'ers in baseball along with RF Jason Heyward. The loss of Prado hurts a bit, but Chris Johnson should help fill some of that void.
I like this because the Braves managed to keep their team in tact while picking up a 25 year old OF'er to plug in for the foreseeable future. Here are the players the Braves gave up...
- Martin Prado is a player the Cubs once had interest in but had no match with the Braves. He's a versatile player who can play good defense at a number of positions. His bat profiles best in the IF, however, especially 2B. But it looks like he'll play 3B for the Diamondbacks. He was a 6 WAR player largely on the strength of his defense, solid OBP skills, average power, and solid baserunning skills. A good ballplayer and one I'm sure the Braves didn't want to lose. The Diamondbacks are already looking to sign him to an extension.
- Randall Delgado is a solid starter with good, but not elite stuff. He was the team's #3 prospect last season. He shows a 92-94 mph fastball and a good hard curveball, probably his best pitch. He has struggled somewhat with command in his young career and the fear I have with him is that, unlike Cubs acquisition Arodys Vizcaino, he lacks the athleticism to make development of that command easier.
- Zeke Sprulli was the only ranked Braves prospect in the deal. He's rated as their 9th best prospect and 6th best pitching prospect overall. He profiles as an innings eating back of the rotation type.
- Nick Ahmed is a good defensive SS with a questionable bat.
- Brandon Drury is a Class A 1B who hit .229 with 6 HRs in the Sally League.
This trade was mostly about obtaining Delgado and upgrading 3B as far as AZ is concerned, but I can't help but think they sold a little low here once again. They've telegraphed their intentions to trade Upton for 2 years now and perhaps that hurt their leverage a bit.
Mets to sign Michael Bourn?
- It appears the only thing preventing the Mets from signing Michael Bourn is losing that 1st round pick. The team picks 11th and falls just outside the protected range. They are negotiating with MLB to get an exception where they only need give up their 2nd round pick. Apparently, it seems possible they could work some sort of deal out with some help from the MLBP (think this comp rule is getting tweaked soon?). The question then becomes whether the Mets will be willing to meet Boras' asking price. The Mets are looking to sign a backloaded deal.
The Mets agree with Shawn Marcum
- Another pitcher on the Cubs radar whom some thought would be a favorite but it became clear the Cubs had set their sites elsewhere, quickly signing Scott Baker and Scott Feldman, then later adding Edwin Jackson and Carlos Villanueva. Marcum doesn't have front line stuff or command but has tremendous pitchability, playing up 5th starter ability into #3 starter results during his peak. The deal is for one year but no financial terms disclosed at this time.
Nyjer Morgan signs with Japan's BayStars
- Some readers had interest in Morgan as a poor man's Michael Bourn but Morgan's poor season as he heads into his age 33 season likely scared some teams off. His unusual personality may have played a factor as well.
The Rays sign Kyle Farnsworth
The front office showed some mild interest in the ex-Cubs fireballer early in the offseason but quickly changed gears, opting for Japanese import Kyuji Fujikawa instead.
We'll have some more on the Cubs later on today...
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