Bittersweet day for me. So happy to get the chance to play with my brother in Atlanta but will miss the city and the fans here in Phoenix.—Justin Upton (@JUS10UP10) January 24, 2013
Hmmm. Interesting, as much for who he didn't thank: notable by its omission, perhaps, was any mention of the club which drafted, signed, gave him a long-term contract, and named part of the stadium after him. We'll get back to this later. Here's how our GM sees the trade affecting the future make-up of the team.
We’re going to be a little different club. I think we will still hit home runs, but I think the last couple of years we have relied too much on the long ball. That’s not to say we are not going to hit homers, but I think it is going to be a different style of play. If you look at our record, those days that we didn’t homer, we didn’t win. We wanted to have more of an offense where we had that speed dynamic. Guys like Prado, you can hit-and-run with, make solid contact and use the whole field. That’s not to say we are not going to hit homers, but I think it is going to be a different style of play, and the style of play I was hoping for when we first got here.
-- Kevin Towers
Certainly, there's no denying that the 2013 Diamondbacks will be very much Towers' baby. On a quick scan, I think the only position players who played at the major-league level prior to his arrival will be Miguel Montero and Gerardo Parra, with Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson the sole survivors on the pitching side. Sink or swim, this and the Bauer trade will likely define Towers' tenure in Arizona.
From just a 2013 perspective, this deal probably doesn’t move the needle that much. Both teams received one above average player, and no one else in the deal is likely to make a huge impact at the big league level this year. It’s the years after this one that will determine whether this trade was worth it for both sides... Win-win trades aren’t that common in baseball anymore. From my perspective, this appears to be one of the rare instances where both teams made a good deal.
- Dave Cameron, fangraphs.com
I think this is probably the summary which comes closest to my own feelings on the matter. Even with the trade of Upton, I still think we'd have been better off not signing Ross, and going with a Kubel, Eaton, Parra outfield, but there's no doubt that this year, Martin Prado > Johnson at third. Will it be enough to offset the Upton > Ross difference? Down the road, a lot will depend on if Prado is signed to an extension, and at what cost. And then there's the very young Delgado and the prospects, odds likely favor them being somehow a net contributor, somewhere down the line.
Upton, 25, wanted out of Arizona as much as the Diamondbacks wanted to trade him. He was livid by the constant trade rumors and the D'Backs' refusal to stop shopping him. He never officially demanded a trade but informed the Diamondbacks he would welcome one... The relationship between the Diamondbacks and Upton grew ugly after the season. Upton informed the team he would be uncomfortable performing community work as long as the Diamondbacks were trying to trade him. He also requested that the "Uptown'' sign come down.
-- Bob Nightengale, USA Today
While [Justin Upton's agent, Larry] Reynolds made it clear he did not demand a trade, he did tell Towers that with the circumstances being what they were, it might be best for both parties if a trade was made. "We never demanded a trade, but there were discussions between Kevin Towers and myself about the possibility of trading Justin between the end of the season and the trade," Reynolds said. "I have a good relationship with K.T., so those discussions were amicable."
- reported by Steve Gilbert, mlb.com
Two reports, with somewhat conflicting, but not contradictory views of the relationship beteen the team and the player. It's interesting how so much of this stuff only starts to comes out in public, once a deal has gone down. This could be seen (and. I've no doubt, will be seen) as the team trying to spin the situation, but could just as well be the case that it opens the door for people to say what they really think. Witness the following Tweet from FSAZ's Todd Walsh
Selective memory: Majestic homers vs long, slow, angry walks to RF. Cannon arm vs dropped fly balls. No joy whatsoever vs.....— Todd Walsh (@ToddWalsh) January 24, 2013
Ouch. Not sure if there's more to it than that, but when queried on it by Scott Bordow, he replied, "I'm pretty confident in what I have seen with my own eyes and have heard with my own ears." Clearly not an Upton fan. At the other end of the spectrum is Keith Law, who presented perhaps the most damning critique of the trade:
Arizona's return boils down to this: one year of Martin Prado, six years of a fifth starter in Randall Delgado, two fringy prospects and one non-prospect. If that sounds like a good deal to you, I have some beachfront property in Phoenix to sell you.
- Keith Law, ESPN (insider)
Of course, the question of whether it actually will be one year of Prado, remains to be seen. if the team can tie him up to an extension, without having to compete in free-agency (against an increasing number of teams sporting fat TV deals and deep pockets), then that needs to be considered as part of the deal's "value." My SBN colleague Rob Neyer has a different take on the deal, saying it indicates the team is not looking to 2013.
One does, it should be said, get the impression that Kevin Towers is playing the long game, and doesn't have any real intention of competing with the Giants and the Dodgers in 2013. Which is not a terribly unreasonable position, given any reasonable person's projected National League West standings. And that would have been true even if Towers had held on to Upton and traded Jason Kubel. The Diamondbacks are rebuilding, even if they won't come right out and say it.
- Rob Neyer, SB Nation
It does appear increasingly clear that Upton did not fit the character of the Towers ballclub. This is clearest in the quote obtained by Ken Rosenthal:
The problem is that he didn’t play with a high level of energy. What I think they want is guys who play with the speed, energy and intensity of the Oregon football team — all out, all the time. Justin doesn’t have that kind of attitude; he has a quiet intensity that doesn’t fit the mold of what KT and Gibby seem to want. He plays hard but has to look suave doing it. Slamming into walls isn’t his thing, and they will accept nothing short of all-out sacrifice for the team.
- A former teammate, speaking to Ken Rosenthal, "on the condition that he would not be identified"
One wonders if this ties in with another Walsh Tweet, saying, "It seemed to pain Upton to give public respect to his manager, a guy who ALWAYS defended him. He had an ally and didn't seem to care." It seems that Upton's departure from Arizona, for now, leaves him if anything more of an enigma than ever before.