Even when a trade makes all the sense in the world on paper, and brings about a needed change, fans will always have questions and be upset when one of their favorite players is shipped out. So when the Atlanta Braves sent Martin Prado to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a seven-player deal, they had to know there would be some fan fallout.
Prado, a former All-Star, had been a fan favorite in Atlanta for a number of years. He filled in admirably whenever Chipper Jones was out with an injury, and he was able to play practically any position on the diamond. His hard-nosed attitude and team-first mentality won over fans, and the Braves front office.
When third baseman Chipper Jones announced his retirement at the start of the 2012 season, many fans believed that Prado was the obvious heir apparent, and while they would miss Chipper and his Hall of Fame numbers, Prado would be an ample replacement. As they always say, the best laid plans….
When the news broke about the deal sending Prado to the Diamondbacks, many fans were excited about the prospect of Justin Upton joining his brother B.J. in the Braves’ outfield, easily giving Atlanta arguably the best outfield in MLB. But more than the thrill of gaining Upton number-two, some fans were distressed at the departure of their beloved Prado.
I put the question out to Braves fans via Twitter and Facebook to tell me if they were more excited about having Justin Upton come to Atlanta, or more upset about losing Martin Prado. I received responses from fans who voiced both a love and hate for the trade, and a handful that were strictly pro-Upton. But overall, the bulk of the responses from the fans I heard back from were saddened at the loss of Prado.
Brittney from Nashville, Tn. (@thatjunkiechick) said, “wayyyyyyyy more upset about [losing] martin. He was so valuable to us”. Derrick from Atlanta, Ga. (@comup) showed his displeasure, stating “losing Prado like losing 2-3 players you can plug him in in the outfield or infield”
Jenn from Rome, Ga. expressed the sentiment that I heard repeatedly from fans. “right now, honestly more upset about losing Prado.”, and on Facebook, John B. from Atlanta said, “Sad to see Martin go… Would’ve loved to see him move to third… Great guy, solid hitter, team player for sure.”
Erskine, from Lindale, Ga. (@ErskineThompson) said “Upset over Prado. I always value consistency and work ethic over power and flash. Team will miss Prado’s gritty attitude.”
There were a number of fans who were more pragmatic – wanting to see Prado stay, but understanding that the Braves probably wouldn’t have been able to afford him long-term. “Have to give value to get better. Martin was versitile, but Upton has a higher ceiling/cheaper. Johnson’s numbers = Prado’s.” said Matt from Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. (@MusicBravesFSU).
Steve from Nova Scotia, Canada (@SteveMac03) also saw the bigger financial picture for the Braves. “Mixed emotions, but Prado very likely to leave via free agency after 2013. Braves wouldn’t pay him $11 or $12 M per season.”, he stated.
While fans have spent most of their time analyzing the pros and cons of Prado vs. Upton, what seems to be getting lost is that the Braves also gave up a valuable young pitcher in Randall Delgado, as well as three minor league players–RHP Zeke Spruill, SS Nick Ahmed and 1B Brandon Drury–while also gaining 3B Chris Johnson.
The fact that so may other players are basically being overlooked by fans is a good indication of how well-liked Prado was among Braves fans.
One thing is clear through all of this. Whoever unfortunate soul is that ends up manning the hot corner at Turner Field, he will now have to fill not one, but two pairs of shoes…Chipper Jones, and Martin Prado.