OK, so this may be the longest of long shots, but it’s also one of the most intriguing in terms of potential trade targets for the Rangers. While Craig Gentry, Leonys Martin and David Murphy are all doing a pretty good job of holding down the third spot in the Rangers outfield with Josh and Nellie, B.J.’s little brother is attractive in more ways than one…
Justin Irvin Upton
If Justin Upton is truly on the trading block, he is by far the most talented offensive player available. The Diamondbacks, after making the playoffs in 2011, are a sub-.500 team this year (44-47) and sitting 7 games back in the NL West of the division leading Giants (and 7 games back in the Wild Card race). Not too far back to make a second half run, which Upton would have to play a key role in, if it were to happen.
Upton is a 24 year-old 2-time NL All-Star who finished 4th in the NL MVP voting in 2011. He was the first pick in the 2004 MLB Draft and made his debut in Arizona at the age of 19 in 2007.
Upton has played right field exclusively since coming up to the big leagues, but some speculate that he could play CF or LF effectively.
Upton isn’t having his best season, after strong campaigns over the last four years. This simply makes it seem even more far-fetched that the D’Backs would consider moving the young star, as it’s definitely not an opportunity to “sell high”.
Upton is also under contract through 2015, which from the Rangers perspective, could serve as an insurance policy against losing Josh Hamilton in free agency after the season. If Hamilton is resigned by the Rangers, it would facilitate his permanent move to LF if Upton could play CF. Upton’s contract pays him $6.75M this season and $9.75M, $14.25M, $14.5M over the next three seasons.
So, a young talented player with a limitless ceiling with proven success at the major league level…locked up through 2015…not currently playing up to his full potential…for a team that isn’t completely out of the playoff race in the National League.
Why would Arizona deal him? While he may not be performing up to his potential so far this season, he’s young and talented enough that it’s not a huge knock on his value. Sure, the D’Backs wouldn’t be selling him at his true “high”, but there is no question of his long-term value. Arizona is a team built to contend, and Upton’s age and potential play right into that.
All that said, the D’Backs know the market is better suited for sellers right now. With the revisions to the Playoffs this year (additional Wild Card team), there are more buyers at the trade deadline than ever before. Sure Upton is young and talented, but if Arizona could exchange him for a slew of young and talented players that fit the current and future needs of his teams…he’d do it.
“I don’t know whether we’ll trade Justin or not,” Arizona General Manager Kevin Towers said. “We’ll have to see if the right deal presents itself. We’re in the information-gathering business. The information we get now may be useful this winter. We’ll find out what teams have interest in him.”
So, it all comes down to the right deal…
|162 Game Avg.||162||589||94||163||33||6||24||81||18||68||158||.276||.357||.476||.832|
If 2008 through 2011 is a true indication of the potential of Justin Upton, there is no doubt that the sky is the limit for this kid. Keep in mind that he is only 24 this season (turns 25 in late August), so his best years should still be ahead of him.
- Looking at similar players, Adams Jones, Jay Bruce and our very own Nelson Cruz make the list. Historically, the most similar player in terms of production through the age of 24 is Ruben Sierra…doesn’t it feel like it was meant to be?
- Upton’s current WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is a weak 1.1…again, you can’t put too much value on his performance so far this season given his age and what we have seen over the previous 3-4 years. His WAR in 2011 was 5.7, good for 6th in the National League.
- Upton’s name is scattered all over the leader boards for offensive performance in 2011 – WAR, Slugging %, Runs, Total Bases, Doubles, Home Runs, Runs Created, etc.
Could Justin be a Ranger?
Does a trade for Upton fill a need? Yes, while the offense is already strong (outside of recent performance), Upton provides another dynamic threat to the line-up and provides an everyday OF for the Rangers (Hamilton-Upton-Cruz).
Does dealing for Upton fill the team’s top need? That’s debatable, but my thought is if you have an opportunity to get a player of this caliber for a price that you deem fair, you pull the trigger.
As far as what Arizona would require in return for Upton…the price tag is going to be higher than that of say Cole Hamels or another other player who is eligible for free agency after the season. Again, Upton is locked up through 2015. I think it will require a group of top level prospects (2-4 of them) along with a current major league player (if only to provide the Arizona fans with something new for this season).
So, what is the “right deal”? You know Jon Daniels has a different idea from Kevin Towers as to what the “right deal” is. Hence, the reason this deal more than likely won’t happen.
If you consider Jurickson Profar to be untouchable, the deal would more than likely center around Mike Olt and Martin Perez (or a pitching prospect of similar value), and could include a 1-2 more minor league players from a notch or two below these two…possibly someone like a Julio Borbon.
So, would you (yes, you) make that move? Olt and Perez represent a big part of what is considered the future (near future is more like it) of this team. The difference with a deal like this, as opposed to Cole Hamels or a soon-to-be free agent, is Justin Upton would also be considered the future of this team…as well as be more impactful this season.
If JD could find a way to make this deal happen while not dealing away Profar and Olt, I’d be on board. I like Perez, but we have good pitching depth at the Major League level as well as down on the farm. I’m sure the Rangers will do their due diligence and see what’s here, but a deal for Upton just seems unlikely…but it’s fun to ponder.
Regardless of what happens, this type of deal, whether the Rangers are the D’Backs’ trading partner or not, would likely occur at the 11th hour. Should be fun to watch!
For your entertainment: