The Atlanta Braves, long criticized locally for the lack of African-American players on its roster, traded Thursday to acquire former Arizona Diamondbacks Justin Upton, which pairs him in the outfield with older brother B.J. Upton, who signed as a free agent in the summer.

Throw in right-fielder Jason Heyward, and Atlanta has an all-black outfield, something not seen since the 1996 opening day lineup featuring Marquis Grissom, David Justice and Mike Kelly.

The trade brings to Atlanta Justin Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson, while the Diamondback receive pitcher Randell Delgado, infielder Martin Prado and minor league prospects Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury and Zeke Spruill, according to ESPN.

The deal is pending physicals of players involved.

After signing, B.J. Upton said he wanted to play with this brother in the same outfield. Matched with Heyward, the Braves have built one of baseball’s best outfields. Heyward won his first Gold Glove in 2012, when he hit .269 with 27 homers and 82 RBIs.

The Diamondbacks once viewed Justice Upton as a player they would build around for years to come. At age 21, he hit 26 homers, scored 84 runs and drove in 86 runs. In March 2010, Arizona signed Upton to a six-year, $51.5 million deal. The D-backs made the playoffs in 2011, and Upton finished fourth in NL MVP voting.

But the Diamondbacks started discussing possible Upton trades that fall, and after he got off to a poor start in 2012, Arizona owner Ken Kendrick criticized Upton and other players in a radio interview.

Arizona again looked into trading Upton before the July 31 deadline last summer and continued to have discussions once this offseason began. It became increasingly apparent that the relationship between the Diamondbacks and Upton had been damaged.

The Diamondbacks had agreed to a deal to trade Upton to Seattle earlier this month, but the player vetoed it. Seattle was among four teams on Upton’s contract that he could nix. Atlanta was not on that list.

B.J. Upton signed a five-year, $75-million contract with the Braves, the richest in the team’s history.  In August, he and Justin made history when they reached 100 home runs for their careers an hour apart.


Arizona diamondbacksAtlanta bravesB.j uptonChris johnsonJason heywardJustin uptonSports

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