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ESPN insider: ‘If I were a D-backs fan’ I’d hate the Justin Upton trade

LISTEN: Keith Law, ESPN MLB Insider

After nearly three years of trade rumors, two-time All-Star Justin Upton was finally dealt by the Arizona Diamondbacks in a seven-player deal with the Atlanta Braves Thursday.

By now, just about everyone on both sides of the trade has had a chance to digest the news and evaluate whether or not their team on paper got the better end of the deal.

While the D-backs netted former All-Star Martin Prado, 22-year-old starting pitcher Randall Delgado and three prospects (Nike Ahmed, Zeke Spruill and Brandon Drury), one ESPN MLB insider thinks fans in the Valley ought to be disappointed with the Braves’ package.

When asked by Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf if Arizona fans should hate Thursday’s blockbuster trade, Keith Law didn’t flinch.

“Yeah if I were a D-backs fan absolutely,” Law said. “They didn’t get nearly enough in return.”

Although general manager Kevin Towers gushed about the addition of Prado on Doug & Wolf earlier in the day — referring to him as a grinder and a good clubhouse presence — Law, who previously worked in the Toronto Blue Jays front office from 2002-2006, said that rarely should a deal be made on projected chemistry.

“My whole attitude on let’s just say intangibles in general, if you can’t measure them then you can’t value them and you can’t pay for them,” said Law.

“The great middle here is the good clubhouse guy and the bad clubhouse guy. My answer has always been the same, it was the same when I was in the front office and it’s the same now. How much is that worth?”

In the case of Upton, Law believes the issue is more or less irrelevant. After all, he points out that the right fielder’s worth was only questioned after he struggled to put up power numbers in 2012.

Last season, Upton was expected to be an MVP candidate in the National League, but hit just .280 with 17 home runs, 67 RBI and 107 runs scored.

So following the trade, which Upton does Law expect we’ll likely see in the coming years: the 2011 MVP candidate (.288 batting average, 31 home runs and 88 RBI) or the 2012 underachiever?

“I think he got close (to his potential) two seasons ago,” said Law. “And I would love to go back and have a do-over of the 2012 season where he doesn’t hurt his thumb like he did against (the Giants). Because if you look at his performance in 2012 it had quite a bit in common with the year before.

“He hit for similar average, similar on-base percentage. What was gone was all the power. And I think he did try to make some adjustments for the worst.”

While Law admitted that it’s probably too early to speculate on which team got the most out of the deal, he believes the D-backs sold themselves short in their underselling of Upton.

“Here, I don’t think the (D-backs) got near enough,” said Law. “It may be that they just ran him down so much. Or, it may be also be because they’re looking at him and saying ‘He’s never going to be the 2011 version again, not here, not in this environment and not the way we are trying to construct this club.'”

Although Towers and Co. might not have envisioned Upton reaching his superstar potential in a D-backs uniform, Law said he projects that the 25-year-old has all of the tools to get there in Atlanta.

“I think he’s going to be back where he was two years ago if not better,” said Law. “Where he’s playing great defense, he’s hitting 30-plus home runs, he’s getting on base to the .360 or .370 clip, maybe even a little more and ending up on MVP ballots.

“He may not be the best player in the league at any specific point, but my bet is he’s in that discussion when we’re talking about the top five or six position players in the National League.”