Nothing is happening yet, just like it hasn't happened all winter, but the constant rumor mill that has been swirling around Justin Upton and the Arizona Diamondbacks this entire off-season has picked up steam of late with reports of some serious talks happening with the Atlanta Braves.
We don't know which prospects will be involved, but we know which ones have been mentioned (at least by credible sources, not commenters on Braves websites).
From most reports, the prospect that his deal centers around is top pitching prospect Julio Teheran. This makes sense, given that he's the best the Braves have to offer, and the closest thing the Braves have to Taijuan Walker, the centerpiece of the deal with the Mariners that Upton rejected.
But Teheran is not Walker, although he is closer to being major league ready. Teheran's change-up is better than any off-speed pitch Walker has to offer, but the lack of development in his breaking ball leaves reason for concern.
Ken Rosenthal tweeted Wednesday night that the Diamondbacks are also interested in C/OF Evan Gattis and SS Nick Ahmed. Both are nice players, but a package of those three would signify a major step down from the package the Mariners offered.
Gattis is coming on strong in the prospect world now that he's gotten his act together and is focused on baseball, but he'll be 27 next season and spent just a partial season at Double-A. Gattis has tremendous power and tore it up in winter ball this off-season, but if the Diamondbacks want him to get to the majors anytime soon, and give their age they should, then it will be as an outfielder.
Getting rid of outfielders, not acquiring them, was the whole point of this trade in the first place.
As for Ahmed, well, it seems the Diamondbacks made a rule this winter that every trade they make has to include a shortstop. The problem is whether or not Ahmed can stick there defensively. He makes the plays, but nothing looks smooth. There are also some serious questions about whether or not he has an every day bat. It seems like a utility role is his most likely destination.
Considering the offer the Mariners and Diamondbacks had in place - Walker, 2B Nick Franklin, LHP Charlie Furbush and RHP Stephen Pryor - a trade for just those three prospects would signify a significant change in the opinion in Upton's value from just two weeks ago. More likely, however, is that there are others involved.
Even with their trading off of Trevor Bauer earlier this winter, he Diamondbacks have as much pitching depth as any organization in baseball, but that hasn't stopped them from inquiring on Teheran in this deal, so it probably wouldn't stop them from asking about J.R. Graham in the deal as well. For the Braves, however, trading their two top pitching prospects may be too high of a price.
Catching prospect Christian Bethancourt could be intriguing, even with the presence of Miguel Montero, because there's no guarantee that Bethancourt will ever hit enough to be a regular. His defense is strong enough, however, that he'll absolutely have a career in the majors, and his bat could be a nice lottery ticket for the Diamondbacks. With the questions about Brian McCann's long-term health, however, the Braves may not want to move Bethancourt either, especially if they move Gattis or see him as an OF long-term.
The main problem with the Braves and Diamondbacks matching up on a deal of this magnitude is that the Diamondbacks don't need pitching (one of the few teams that can say that), even in their minor league system, and the Braves don't have much in the way of impact position players. Without their willingness to include Simmons, the Braves won't be able to offer the same type of package the Diamondbacks had lined up with the Mariners.
If the Diamondbacks are willing to add value in the form of more pitching, a strategy that few have regretted, then a deal could be reached, but if not, then the Diamondbacks will have to come down significantly from their previous deal in order to move Upton to Atlanta.