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  1. I agree about the right to an extension needs to be valued into the trade equation. Perfect example is Roy Halladay coming to Philly as part of that trade. Anyone think the Phils could have signed him to a 3/60 deal if he was a free agent? Exclusive negotiating rights have value.

    Comment by Nik — January 31, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

  2. The problem is what is that value exactly? Saying something has value without being able to identify it is nearly meaningless. Hindsight calcs like DC’s above do shine a clearer light on the total trade equation, but given that Prado didn’t sign for much less than he could have garnered on the open market still makes that value negligible to me at the time of the trade.

    Comment by etrain — January 31, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

  3. Do the Braves not also get the value that comes from “acquiring the rights to sign [Upton] to a long term deal” in 2016 as well?

    Comment by Kris — January 31, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

  4. small typo in the first sentence Mr Cameron

    should say Atlanta not Arizona

    Comment by Baseball fan — January 31, 2013 @ 2:53 pm

  5. The biggest bummer about the end of the high-offense/PED era is that we now start talking about 30-yr old players as “old”, whereas a decade ago being 30 meant you were in the meat of your prime.

    Comment by kid — January 31, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

  6. I think 3 wins is rather bearish for Prado. More like 3.5 or even 4. This is a great deal for the DBacks. To me, it doesn’t make the trade better, but it does make you wonder what was keeping the Braves from making a similar offer. They might could have even locked him up for a few million less.

    Comment by TKDC — January 31, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

  7. I’m assuming they’re gonna use the money they save to lock up Heyward.

    Comment by Travis — January 31, 2013 @ 3:13 pm

  8. “The D’Backs never intended to acquire one year of Martin Prado, and we shouldn’t treat the Upton trade as if that was ever a realistic outcome.”

    I agree with the general argument — that the extension should be viewed as related to the trade rather than separate — but I think that this somewhat overstates matters. One year of Prado certainly could have been a realistic outcome. After all, when the Braves traded for Mark Teixeira, they clearly thought they might have some hope of extending him to a long-term contract, but they simply failed to do so.

    Moreover, the Braves traded Prado because they couldn’t reach terms with his agent on a long-term deal, so it’s not like Prado was going to roll over and accept just anything. It is possible that the Diamondbacks went into the trade with some indication from Prado and his agent that they were open to a deal. But it wasn’t necessarily a fait accompli.

    Comment by Alex Remington — January 31, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

  9. Yep, those dollars will go to Heyward and Freeman

    Comment by Andrew — January 31, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

  10. If Prado is going to generate about 2 WAR per year, and he’s being paid for about 2 WAR per year, whether or not the extension should be seen as a part of the trade doesn’t matter in this case, since the Diamondbacks aren’t making any money on it. (Unless, of course, their only non-Prado option is someone who would generate fewer WAR than $480,000 is worth.)

    Comment by nick — January 31, 2013 @ 3:25 pm


    Comment by Daniel — January 31, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

  12. Prado is very much still underrated in the mainstream community.

    Comment by Slats — January 31, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

  13. So if you’re not smart enough to quantify something you just dismiss it outright? Sound logic.

    Comment by nik — January 31, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

  14. Eaton

    I’m sure Parra will play some too. the 3-7 spots could be messed with depending on who is hot and what you wanna do. The key is the first two spots in the lineup which have a chance to be excellent. If they get the On base ability of Eaton and Prado that will be great. Eaton stepped on homeplate 149 times last year including 19 times in 22 major league games. This team is nothing to sleep on. If the pitching comes together ok they will compete with the Dodgers and Giants. Have to see how it shakes out.

    Comment by Spit Ball — January 31, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

  15. @Daniel … My bad – I didn’t realize the D-Backs acquired an option in the deal.

    Comment by etrain — January 31, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

  16. @Nik – it isn’t that someone isn’t smart enough – it is that there is no way to quantify the value … you can say it has value but what is that value? Is it the value of a cheeseburger?

    Comment by etrain — January 31, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

  17. “The D’Backs never intended to acquire one year of Martin Prado, and we shouldn’t treat the Upton trade as if that was ever a realistic outcome.”

    I don’t really agree with this or what Law says, because the reality is somewhere in the middle. The D-backs were acquiring a probability of being able to sign Prado long-term, because sometimes extensions don’t work out even if the team wants them to. It is totally realistic to think of a scenario where Prado would walk, especially considering the poor relations that the team has been having with players in recent weeks (Bauer, Upton). Prado didn’t have to like signing on with people who won’t be afraid of talking shit about him in the future to the media, but he did and now the D-backs have him for 4yr instead of 1yr.

    Law is stupid for considering the transactions separate, but it’s also got to be included in the calculus of the deal that extension candidates like Prado might not be as gung-ho as the front office acquiring him is.

    Comment by AK7007 — January 31, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

  18. Should have read this comment and not posted mine – much better response.

    Comment by AK7007 — January 31, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

  19. This has been looked at several times whenever someone signs an extension that pays them less than they’d receive on the open market. Matt Cain’s extension, Cole Hamel’s extension, etc.

    Dave pointed out in the article examples of players with similar performance that signed for more than Prado did when they reached the open market.

    Comment by James — January 31, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

  20. I think that has more to do with the focus on base running and defense which didn’t exist back during the steroid era. A Ryan Howard type might hit 30 HRs this year but we know his defense and speed will keep him from being an elite player. Back in the late 90s and early 2000s we weren’t able to quantify those aspects of the game as easily.

    Comment by James — January 31, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

  21. “the relationship between Upton and the D’Backs wasn’t ever going to result in another long term deal between them”

    1) This is partly and possibly mostly the Diamondbacks’ fault.
    2) This deal was much worse than the one Seattle offered and one can’t help but wonder whether a better deal was available somewhere else.
    3) The Diamondbacks must think a lot less of Mike Olt than most people do to prefer Prado at market price to him. Delgado and the others don’t really matter because the Rangers could have probably come up with comparable secondary pieces.

    Comment by Ivan Grushenko — January 31, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

  22. What money is saved… they are paying Upton 38mil over 3 years vs 4/40 to Prado

    This trade didn’t clear any money, except 2016 (if you assume the Braves could have gotten a similar extension done)

    Comment by Hank — January 31, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

  23. I would take Prado in his prime 10 times out of 10 over a 23 year old prospect who has never done it in the bigs. I’ve seen to many Mike Olt’s wash out and not make it.

    Comment by Spit Ball — January 31, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

  24. So if you’re not smart enough to quantify something you just dismiss it outright? Sound logic.

    Sabermetrician circa 2000: “Impeccable logic, my young man! We can do an excellent job of evaluating a player’s worth just by looking at his performance at plate. I can’t imagine defense and baserunning would really move the needle on a player’s overall value very much.”

    Comment by ralph — January 31, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

  25. I don’t know how you can make that assessment.

    The DBacks likely wouldn’t have made this trade without verbal confirmation from Prado or his agent that he intended to sign and on what terms. This sort of deal happens all the time across all major sports. Take the RA Dickey trade for example. It was pretty clear from AA’s comments that the Jays had conversations with Dickey or his agent to agree on a deal prior to the trade. Is there a possibility that a player might act in bad faith and go against his word after the trade? Sure. But that possibility is incredibly small and would destroy that player’s reputation for future deals so there’s almost no incentive to do so. Keep in mind this is a veteran player who has a pretty stand-up reputation.

    It’s pretty naive to think the DBacks wouldn’t sign him long-term.

    Comment by Jaker — January 31, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

  26. Yes, but for the Dbacks (after their relationship with Upton had deteriorated) that was not likely not an option for them. Conceivably, a draft pick would have been the most likely Dbacks compensation for Upton leaving then.

    Comment by Atari — January 31, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

  27. And overrated by War

    But i am glad they got him signed. Not getting him signed would have been an unmitigated disaster. Getting him signed to a reasonable deal nudges the trade back towards fair as article suggests. But im still not blown away.

    Comment by Shoewizard — January 31, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

  28. The entire premise assumes that Arizona is in a position to pay retail for WAR when their payroll has consistently been in the bottom half of the league.

    Comment by dirtygary — January 31, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

  29. It seems to me that Arizona should have gotten credit for the potential that Prado might re-sign w/ the D-backs to the extent that that was likely. In other words, the expected value of the possibility of his re-signing is equal to the likelihood that he would re-sign times the surplus value that Arizona would gain from re-signing him. So, if trading for Prado gave the D-backs a 30% greater chance of re-signing Prado and the expected surplus value of re-signing him was $10 M (I’m just making those numbers up), then the possibility that Prado might re-sign with the D-backs added $3 M to their side of the equation.

    We can’t assume that he would re-sign nor can we suggest that it doesn’t matter since they intended to re-sign him when they traded for him. So the possibility that he would re-sign with the D-backs is equal to the increased likelihood he would re-sign x the surplus value of his re-signing.

    By the way, the Braves deserve the same consideration on their side. It may turn out that trading for Upton doesn’t increase the likelihood he would re-sign with the Braves at all so it would be moot, but if that likelihood is increased at all, then it adds to the Braves’ side of the equation.

    Comment by chuckb — January 31, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

  30. I’ve seen too many 29 year olds get prematurely old playing baseball so I guess teams should never try and trade for another one. That’s some sound logic there.

    It’s the same logic that prefers “proven veteran” starting pitchers to young pitchers simply because they’re “proven veterans” from whom one knows “exactly what they’re going to get.”

    Comment by chuckb — January 31, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

  31. “The DBacks likely wouldn’t have made this trade without verbal confirmation from Prado or his agent that he intended to sign and on what terms.”


    Do you actually know that this occurred or are you simply speculating? If you’re speculating, it’s at least as reasonable that Prado would want to wait to see what the market offered — and whether he enjoyed playing in Arizona and/or could stand Kirk Gibson — as it is to assume that he would definitely re-sign. It’s naive to believe that there was no chance that he would want to test the market.

    Comment by chuckb — January 31, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

  32. You have an expiring amount of time to purchase something below market price when you hold his contract. It just isn’t as enforceable as an option. So there would have to be some probabilistic expected value involved as well.

    It doesn’t mean the value is negligible just because it’s hard to predict the likelihood of the extension. If the Diamondbacks made this trade with this extension in mind, they obviously took this into consideration.

    Comment by Daniel — January 31, 2013 @ 5:49 pm

  33. I don’t think you can negotiate with another team’s players. So, while AZ may have had an idea what it would take to sign him to an extension, I doubt they had any sort of confirmation.

    Comment by Dan — January 31, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

  34. Never thought of it that way, thanks.

    Comment by ImKeithHernandez — January 31, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

  35. I like Dan said, I’m fairly sure that it’s against league rules for a team to contact and discuss contracts with a player under another team’s control. If such thing were to occur and then found out, I believe the team can face a penalty. I could be wrong, but I think that’s how it works. I think the only time something like that is allowed if the the current team gives permission such as in the case of Dickey – he and the Jays had a negotiation window and the trade was contingent on them working out an extension. That wasn’t the case with the Diamondbacks. They acquired Prado without knowing for sure that they could sign him to an extension.

    Comment by sewf — January 31, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

  36. Right, and this is what leads to win-win scenarios. We can never know for sure of course, but Upton re-signing with the D-backs seems like it would have been highly unlikely given the way they’ve treated Upton.

    Trading surplus value that you cannot use is a good way to make both sides of a deal happy.

    But you definitely have to figure in the value of the draft pick that the D-backs would presumably get when Upton refuses to re-sign.

    Comment by ralph — January 31, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

  37. There’s no indication the contract was below market value though …

    Comment by etrain — January 31, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

  38. Upton can go all superman, Prado can’t. If Upton performs at mediocre-for-Upton levels, this trade is a win-win. If Upton performs at “I feel like trying and want to crush everyone and show them I’m better than BJ” levels, then this is a sort of silly trade for AZ.

    I’m betting that in at least one of these years, Upton plays his best, and if that happens, ATL wins this trade by a wide margin.

    Comment by Radivel — January 31, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

  39. Just because you have a below average payroll doesn’t mean that you’re not in a position to pay retail for WAR ever. It might mean that you can do it less often than average.

    Comment by Ivan Grushenko — January 31, 2013 @ 8:08 pm

  40. This really has the potential to be a horrible trade for Arizona where people 20 years from now are wondering what the heck Towers was thinking. It has no such potential for Atlanta.

    Comment by Ivan Grushenko — January 31, 2013 @ 8:10 pm

  41. I have to wonder at how we arrive at Martin Prado as a 3 WAR player next season. He’s a 29 year old, and his last three years he averaged 3.9 WAR. At worst you should start him out as a 3.5 WAR player, yes? And that’s regressing the bat, regressing the defense as he moves to third base, and then assuming his baserunning value is null. I think the Diamondbacks got a steal.

    Here’s his WAR values for the past four seasons: $14.4, $17.1, $7, $26.8. I guess there’s the risk he drops back down into that $7 million territory, but he could potentially give you $10 million in surplus value just next season fairly easily.

    Comment by Bronnt — January 31, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

  42. The deal certainly looks better now that Prado walking after a year isn’t going to happen but you can certainly see that Arizona was motivated to deal Upton and Atlanta used that as leverage in the negotiations. If Upton was 100% in Arizona’s corner and saying he wanted to win a World Series there they would have never traded him for what Atlanta offered, though not a terrible offer they were able to lowball Arizona somewhat knowing that they really wanted to move Upton. It’s the classic example of a buyer taking advantage of a motivated seller.

    Comment by Adam — January 31, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

  43. Don’t the Braves have the same opportunity with Upton as well though? You’re trading the rights of each for pre-FA negotiation by their new respective teams. Don’t underestimate the power of playing with his brother opening up the idea of him signing an extension in Atlanta either for slightly less than market value.

    Comment by Brian — February 1, 2013 @ 1:17 am

  44. Herein lies Atlanta’s biggest question. Who do you extend after 2015, Heyward or Upton? On one hand, you have the pitch of an MVP caliber player playing with his brother. On the other, you have a younger player who is still improving and has proven to ben an elite defensive OF. I would choose Heyward, but he’ll cost a lot more. He’s in line to reach FA at age 26. He could get $200 million easily if he just plays out arbitration. On the other hand, he could sign a five year deal now, hit FA still at 28, and guarantee himself $70-75 million before then while still netting $150+ after 2017.

    Comment by Brian — February 1, 2013 @ 1:33 am

  45. There’s always risk with veteran FAs, but the cost is a lot higher than the risk of a prospect. You’re out $1.2 million at most for two years of giving a prospect 1,000 PAs, and you still have the flexibility of adding a replacement on the market or via trade. On the other hand, you might lose out on $30 million for two years of sub-par production from a FA, and then you may be forced to depend on cheap talent because the payroll flexibility is not there.

    Comment by Brian — February 1, 2013 @ 1:41 am

  46. Sure, past performance is a perfect predictor of future performance …

    Comment by Oasis — February 1, 2013 @ 6:05 am

  47. another tangent. what does the prado train/signing do to one of their top prospects, matt davidson? I know prado could switch positions in a year, if davidson is ready in come 2014, but what position? the only one with a opening might be Kubel. but the way he plays, I think I’d want to keep him. or is davidson just a trade chip now?

    Comment by jonnygomez — February 1, 2013 @ 7:23 am

  48. My guess is that the Arizona asked the Braves what Prado wanted for an extension. The Braves had started extension talks with him, and it was in the Braves best interest to give that information to Arizona to help complete the trade. Arizona probably had a pretty good idea of what extension parameters would look like, even if they hadn’t worked it out with Prado.

    Comment by todmod — February 1, 2013 @ 11:46 am

  49. If you say Prado is overrated by WAR, shouldn’t you back that up by some actual fact(s)?

    Comment by Baltar — February 1, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

  50. Radivel:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I am old school and I think the winner is the team who gets the best player in the deal and hands down Justin Upton is the best player in this deal. Sabermetrics is a nice tool, but baseball is not a mathematical equation. According to some sabermetric geeks, Ryan Howard is higly overrated. However, despite his strikeouts and other non-attractive sabermetric numbers, the Phillies were 14 games over .500 after he returned to the lineup last year. Why? Bcause he is an imposing player in the box and his mere presence changes opposing pitchers approach. Tell me who do you think opposing pitchers will find more intimidating over the next 3 years? Prado or J. Upton?

    Comment by bvillebaron — February 1, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

  51. I mean, I wonder how else you’d predict future performance, if you’re in the prediction-making business. Hare livers?

    Comment by Bronnt — February 1, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

  52. No, I think quite clearly steroids changed the aging process and perceptions.

    Speed and baserunning have been “cool” in baseball before, and it wasn’t just young guys with speed (think 80s).

    But guys being in their prime years at age 30 and over (as a general trend) is something unique to the steroid era.

    Steroids work as intended. They aid recovery. Some industries call them “anti-aging compounds”.

    Teams also valued defense before UZR, they just couldn;t quantify it … but with larger ballparks, lower velocity pitchers, more contact hitters, etc …. defense was likely more important back then.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — February 1, 2013 @ 4:09 pm


    It is perhaps not so much of a coincidence that the brief reign of 31-35 year-olds happened to coincide with what we often refer to as the unofficial steroid era. This spike that occurs roughly from 1995-2005 could certainly be viewed as evidence that players of that age may have had access to medical techniques that prevented the performance decline that players of that age form other eras experienced.

    Not using this quote as the sole basis of an argument, but this quote is from a article comparing the contributions of players of various ages over the last 100+ years of baseball.

    The 30+ crowd also has a resurgence following WW2 for different reasons.

    That was ONE of the big deals about the steroid era, 30 was supposed to be “getting old”. 35+ was supposed to be nearing retirement not “smashing all time records”.

    It was a big deal that guys that were suppossed to be aging, were not … or that guys that were viewed as being “on the decline” (Clemens) surged back to domination. Quite a few things were happening that were bucking the “aging trend” without it being able to be explained by “unique event”. The overall trend was that aging was drastically reduced or even reversed.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — February 1, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

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