In a would-be move that could have dramatically shifted the offseason landscape, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners agreed to a deal that would have sent 25-year-old outfielder Justin Upton to the Mariners, according to Ken Rosenthal.
But Upton, who has the right to block a trade to four teams (which he’s already designated), blocked the trade. Apparently the Mariners are one of the four teams on his list, and apparently he wasn’t keen on going there. There aren’t any details yet on just what Arizona would have received in return, nor are there details on the other three teams on Upton’s list.
Obviously the deal indicates what we’ve suspected all along: the Diamondbacks, for whatever reason, would like to trade Upton for a package of young talent right now. Rosenthal mentions that the Braves and the Rangers are also interested in Upton, and, given that there’s already been a trade agreed upon involving Upton, it seems likely that he’ll be dealt this offseason.
The implications for the Cubs here depend largely on whether they are interested in Upton (which I’ve previously discussed here), and whether they are interested in Michael Bourn (which I’ve previously discussed here, among other places). Obviously, if they are in on Upton, they’ll be continuing those discussions now that he isn’t going to the Mariners. If they’re in on Bourn, as the tea leaves suggest they are, at least at the periphery, the fact that the Mariners failed to acquire Upton could leave them with few options besides trying to sign Bourn.
The broader implications are tougher to nail down, because it depends on where Upton goes, what the D-backs get in return, and which teams/players are also talking to the team to which Upton goes. A big move like Upton is the kind that can have significant ripple effects, which could obviously touch a team like the Cubs – a team always interested in picking up assets, and with some pieces to trade.
I should add that this does not mean a D-backs/Mariners deal for Upton could never be consummated – Upton could simply be looking for a financial enticement to waive his no-trade clause, and this could simply be the first step in that process.
UPDATE: Jerry Crasnick has the other three teams on Upton’s list: the Blue Jays, the Red Sox and … the Cubs. That’s the second year in a row that the Cubs are on Upton’s no-trade list, which I take as a sign that his agent figured the Cubs would be very interested in trading for him (which makes sense, given their usual MO of targeting guys like Upton). Does this mean a trade with the Cubs could never happen? No. It just means that they’d have to offer up a financial enticement – likely an extension – in order to get him to waive his no-trade clause.