Rays Notes: Justin Upton Traded to Braves, The Rays’ Chances for Michael Bourn


Breaking news just now is that the Atlanta Braves have acquired outfielder Justin Upton from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Here’s the full trade.

Arizona Diamondbacks trade OF Justin Upton and 3B Chris Johnson to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for OF/3B Martin Prado, RHP Randall Delgado, SS Nick Ahmed, RHP Zeke Spruilland 3B/1B Brandon Drury.

This trade is pretty unbelievable- the Braves acquire Justin Upton to join his brother B.J. Upton in their outfield, but in order to make it happen they’re trading away a very good player in Prado along with three solid prospects including a former top prospect in Delgado. The Braves needed an outfielder, but a big part of their thinking had to be that bringing Justin and B.J. together might be exactly they need for everything to click for them, although no one knows what the chances of that happening are. From the Diamondbacks’ standpoint, they get a player who could very well be better than Upton next season in Prado along with three promising prospects. The issue, though, is that Delgado has been enigmatic the past couple of years and Spruill and Ahmed are not players with very much upside. It had to sting for the Braves to have to trade Prado, who they thought would be a major part of their team next year, but they’re getting Justin Upton at the lowest price they were ever going to get him, and if he can recover from a down 2012 and B.J. and him can positively influence one another, this trade will be a major victory for them. In any event, cross Justin Upton off the list of potential Rays trade targets, and more importantly, congrats to B.J. as he’ll get to play with his brother for the first time as a professional.

It seemed crazy from the start and it still is. But the Rays do have a nonzero chance of signing free agent outfielder Michael Bourn. Jon Heyman discussed the Rays chances of signing Bourn and listed them as his 7th most-likely destination describing him as a possible fit but “definite longshot.” But simply the fact that they were listed as a suitor is pretty unbelievable. The chances are that Bourn will not end up with the Rays, but it’s not impossible and don’t throw out the possibility completely.

The Rays have made major changes to their minor league coaching staffs according to a team press release. Brady Williams, the manager of Low-A Bowling Green in 2012, moves up to High-A Charlotte, ex-Rays infielder Jared Sandberg, who managed Short Season-A Hudson Valley, moves up to Bowling Green, and Michael Johns, who had managed Advanced-Rookie Princeton, is getting promoted to Hudson Valley. Princeton’s manager will be Danny Sheaffer, who will be spending his 33rd year in pro baseball but first in the Rays’ organization, while the GCL Rays will be managed by Jim Morrison, who had managed Charlotte in 2012. Congrats to everyone on the promotions, and hopefully they can help guide the Rays’ prospects to a promising season this year.

Fernando Rodney is coming off a magical season. But can he come even remotely close to repeating it? Stephani Bee of Baseball Prospectus writes that while Rodney’s season certainly looks like a fluke given his career numbers and because his breakout was not accompanied by a new pitch or anything of the sort, maybe his decision to abandon his four-seam fastball and slider to throw only his unhittable sinker and changeup could help him continue to be among the best relievers in baseball. We can’t expect Rodney’s ERA to be right around 0.61, and even expecting it to be under 1.50 might be a little far-fetched. But Rodney made a breakthrough last season, and the Rays believe he can continue to be as good of a closer as they’ve ever seen in 2013.

To close, Rays fans have to be a little sad about this news: Dan Johnson has signed a minor league deal with the rival New York Yankees. Best of luck to Johnson next season, but Rays fans had to have been hoping that the Game 162 hero could be coming back to Tampa Bay, and it’s at least a little alarming to know that there’s a chance that he could be coming to the plate against the Rays in big spots next season if he cracks the Yankees’ roster.