The Obligatory Justin Upton Post: He’s Available, Again

In what seems to have become an annual rite, the Arizona Diamondbacks are listening to offers for their young, talented, erratically-performing outfielder, Justin Upton.

Major League sources tell Ken Rosenthal that there’s an 80% chance Upton is playing elsewhere in 2013. He has a limited no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to four teams. Last year, those four teams were the Cubs, the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Indians (a combination, presumably, of places he genuinely didn’t want to go, and large markets he thought he could play for a financial incentive to waive his no-trade clause, should it come to that). That list, however, has changed, according to Rosenthal, though he doesn’t list the four new teams. It could still include the Cubs, though Nick Piecoro suggests there are four new teams on the list.

Joel Sherman says the Diamondbacks would like to move quickly on this, and the Rays and Rangers are the strongest early suitors. Outside of excitable fans, I haven’t seen the Cubs credibly attached to Upton at this time.

Just 25, Upton has had brilliant seasons (129 OPS+ and 4.8 WAR in 2009, 141 OPS+ and 6.4 WAR in 2011), and lesser seasons (110/3.0 in 2010, 107/2.5 in 2012). He’s signed through 2015, and will make $9.75 million, $14.25 million, and $14.5 million during those three seasons. Obviously he offers a great deal of surplus value, assuming his future seasons will be closer to the 2009/2011 variety.

But that’s the rub with Upton – you don’t know what you’re going to get. And given that he plays right field, rather than a premium defensive position, he’s going to have to generate a ton of value with his bat. The physical gifts are obviously there, but so is the potential for stagnation.

The Cubs would have interest, but so would many, many other teams.

The thing is, if the Rangers are interested – and they’d have no real reason not to be – the Cubs can’t really compete with what the Rangers could offer: namely, Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus. It’s no secret that the D-Backs are looking for a shortstop, preferably a young one who’ll be around for a long time. And, unless the Cubs are planning to deal Starlin Castro, they don’t have really have that piece. Javier Baez is undoubtedly a top shortstop prospect, but he’s a couple years away. Junior Lake might become a decent big league shortstop, but there are serious, serious questions about both his bat and his position. And, even if there weren’t, he’s not the kind of talent that comes at the centerpiece of a trade for Justin Upton.

A kid like Profar is. Or an established player on a friendly contract like Elvis Andrus is. Yes, Starlin Castro falls into that category as well, but does that swap really interest you? It doesn’t me.

In other words, as much as the Cubs might like to pick up a player like Upton, they aren’t a great trade partner, all things considered. If the D-Backs decide to move an outfielder not named Upton, however, here’s hoping the Cubs kick the tires on Gerardo Parra.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

45 responses to “The Obligatory Justin Upton Post: He’s Available, Again”

  1. Kyle

    We don’t have a fit.

    Castro is too much, Baez isn’t enough, and Garza is hurt.

    I guess maybe if they liked Samardzija enough.

    1. ETS

      Agreed. Castro in a 3 team deal maybe… But I don’t think our interest is THAT strong either.

      1. hansman1982

        Ya and I don’t think you’d want to give up one of the top SS in the game (who is incredibly young) for Upton.

  2. Grant Jones

    Castro and Szczur and someone, for Upton and Bauer?
    I would be interested.

    1. Chris

      They’d love Castro, but what would be the point for Az with Szczur? They have more than enough ML ready OF talent. That’s why Upton is available in the first place. From the Cubs perspective, The whole reason to acquire Upton would be to add him to the core of Castro and Rizzo. It’s not a step forward for the ML team if you lose Castro. Bauer can’t be counted on at this stage of his young career, So I don’t see a net gain for the Cubs. As Brett stated, Texas is such a good fit for what Az wants/needs. That’s the team I would put my money on to acquire Upton.

  3. APS

    Valiant efforts here and a great site yet , we need some
    Real Content! C’mon Jed and Theo make something happen that is good for the future, a anti Hendry ( sans Samardjzia deal) deal. We as die hards… Throw us a bone to chew on.

    1. bbmoney

      Hey, Hendry made some other good moves….it’s just most of them were back in 2003.

  4. Barry

    I think we should be talking more about BJ than Justin. Just sayin’…

  5. Patrick W.

    Quick:

    Everybody spend 8 minutes coming up with a Diamondbacks, Rangers, Cubs three way trade where the DBacks get a shortstop (Profar?) the Rangers get an OF (Soriano?) and the Cubs get Upton.

    I got nothin’

    1. Chris

      Can’t see a reason for the Rangers to include the Cubs. They can get the younger piece they’d probably want, Upton, rather than settle for Soriano. I wish there was a way though. One thing interesting to though, as Brett also stated, the Cubs have not been named as a potential suitor in anything I’ve seen over the last 24 hours. Maybe that means they’re trying to keep a better lid on things, but my guess is that means they’re either no interested or realize they don’t have enough to get something done.

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      Also, the Rangers were talking about moving Kinsler to the OF to open up a MI spot for Profar. They also have mentioned sliding Olt into 1B with Napoli (almost certainly) gone and with their having finally caught on that Michael Young hasn’t been good in a while.

      At any rate, giving up Profar in return for Sori would be a pretty heinous mistake. Heck, that might even carry the death penalty in Texas…. :-)

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        Whoops, no, I just looked: all of the state laws pertain to messing up the Cowboys only. Don’t do that, by the way….

    3. Patrick W.

      I said I got nothin’!

  6. Dustin

    Eh..I say just sign his brother BJ

  7. B_Scwared

    Barney could play SS on another team. Would Barney plus other really good young talent potentially work?

    1. willis

      You’d have to throw a lot around Barney for that to work. Probably part with a couple top tens and another top 15. Which…I wouldn’t hate that much. The problem is there is no ML ready talent nor too many can’t miss impact guys right now to piece together a deal for someone that would command as much as Upton. But, you never know unless you kick the tires.

  8. Blublud

    Soriano, Dejesus, (20 million) and Dan Vogelbach to the Rangers

    Andrus, Junior Lake, Brett Jackson, Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez to the DBAcks

    Upton, Bauer and Nicholas Tepesch to the Cubs.

    1. ari gold

      I see the Rangers and Dbacks getting far worse and the Cubs getting much much better. Get it done Theo!

    2. terencemann

      The Rangers aren’t giving up Andrus without a young star player in return.

      1. blublud

        TThey are getting one. if they take Soriano with Dejesus, they get a DH and two guys who can platoon in the spot abandoned by Hamilton. When Soriano is done in 2 years, he can pass the reigns of DH over to Vogelbach.

  9. DL Huyck

    Michael Young to the Cubs for Soriano. Cubs can put Young at 3rd. If they want an Upton sign BJ, no sense in tarding our top spects to AZ for Justin Upton.

    1. terencemann

      Michael Young is incapable of playing defense at this point and is a worse hitter than Soriano.

    2. Patrick W.

      Could we get Neil Young for 3rd? Better range.

  10. JR

    Garza $12 million and cash, Lake, Vitters, and Voglbach for Upton. Seems pretty fair to me.

    1. JR

      I guess the problem is no one will be able to watch Garza until Spring Training. And the Dbacks seem desperate to move Upton asap. I still don’t get why they want him out as muh as they do. Can’t be that big of a prick to counter act all that talent. It’s not like he’s a psycho like Zambrano or Bradley..

    2. terencemann

      The D-Backs don’t really need pitching. They do need a young cost-controlled hitter with Upton’s ceiling if they’re going to trade him.

      1. blublud

        They are getting one. if they take Soriano with Dejesus, they get a DH and two guys who can platoon in the spot abandoned by Hamilton. When Soriano is done in 2 years, he can pass the reigns of DH over to Vogelbach.

        1. blublud

          replied to the wrong post.

          1. blublud

            though I gues my post could apply here to.

            1. hansman1982

              Except the whole DH thing

  11. MightyBear

    I have no interest in any Upton for the Cubs. Very talented individuals but other issues obviously. One item Epstein/Hoyer stressed was clubhouse unity/harmony. I don’t see the Upton’s fitting that bill or their current teams wouldn’t be getting rid of them.

  12. tjtrigo

    I think I have heard in the past that BJ has some attitude issues. Are there similar rumors about Justin?

    1. JR

      Apparently Dback mgt. doesn’t like a couple things about his attitude. But he is sooooo talented that I wouldn’t give a sh*t.

      1. terencemann

        He played through an injury because he felt the team needed him while Chris Young and some other players were out with injuries earlier in the season. I think that says a lot.

  13. Fastball

    BJ Upton is one of the nicest kids you would ever want to meet. He played baseball in highschool with 2 of my boys in Virginia Beach. I have known his parents for over 25 years. I think very highly of those boys. You have to remember they are upper echelon athletes and they do have ego’s but their parents have always kept them in check. I am sure they still do. There dad is extremely strict.

  14. Fastball

    I would be happy with BJ Upton. He doesn’t cost anything but cash right? He won’t except that qualifying offer. Let’s go get him. He has played in a winning environment with Rays also a very young team environment. He would be a very good asset because of those intangibles. He comes to the NL Central and kicks butt IMO. He is a young veteran and that is what we need.

  15. Luke

    MLB Trade Rumors is saying that the Rangers are not going to part with Andrus or Profar in an Upton deal… and I agree with Texas on this one. It could just be posturing, but I don’t see the Rangers make that type of a trade.

    Arizona is also said to be willing to take a good young starter as the centerpiece of a deal. I’d be curious to hear Arizona’s counter offer to Samardzija, Lake, McNutt, and Burgess. Young high quality starter, electric tools guy in need of polish (and possibly a change of scenery), probably 8th/9th inning reliever, and a raw power dude who made quite a bit of progress at Double A this year… that’s not a bad offer, depending on how the Diamondbacks see Lake and McNutt.

    1. Luke
  16. Mike

    If the Diamondbacks were desperate enough, I’d trade Castro for Upton, Bauer and Skaggs. The Cubs should be targeting 2014 as the year to have the pieces in place. Move Barney to SS for a couple of years until Baez is ready. Sign BJ Upton to play CF, trade Soriano to open up and OF spot, Garza for addtional depth and DeJesus if/when Brett Jackson is ready. Should have a pretty potent 2,3,4 combo with BJ, Rizzo and Justin Upton to continue to build around. From a starting pitching standpoint, you have a lot more young pieces to work with that should be close. Shark and then potentially 2 can emerge from Vizcaino, Bauer, Skaggs, McNutt.

  17. Brandon - AA Correspondent

    I prefer the “catch and release” plan for 2013. We do not need; nor can we attract big name free agents now. Let’s stash cash; grab some “bounce back candidates to flip at the deadline…continue to stockpile young talent and in 2014 let’s “release the hounds” and grab the pieces that will help us.

    I am a fan though of moving Lake, McNutt, Vitters and Jackson in ANY DEAL that nets the Cubs some value. I don’t see ANY of those guys becomming difference makers in the big leagues. Let’s move them NOW why there is still some hype and perceived market for thier “potential”.

  18. Brandon - AA Correspondent

    Also, why are we even considering Castro in a deal. Baez may be good; but he is still probably 2 years away. Starlin is a stud and only going to be getting better. This is a player you build around. Not shop around. I love minor league hype as much as the next guy; and am looking forward to Baez seeing some time in Tennessee in 2013 (probably 2nd half). If he is as good as advertised, I love the idea of him being converted to 3B and potentially having an infield of Baez, Castro, Watkins and Rizzo in 2014. Now THAT’s smething to get excited about.

  19. fromthemitten

    Apparently Texas doesn’t think Upton’s worth either of their Shortstops and Arizona’s not too keen on Mike Olt (which is their other big hole), I wonder if they’re interested in a possible package of Barney (who obviously can play SS) and either Vitters/Villanueva

    1. fromthemitten

      other big hole = 3B whoops

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