justin uptonFor about 20 minutes last night, it felt like the Winter Meetings again – Justin Upton was traded to the Mariners … but he vetoed the deal. And everyone started scrambling …

  • So, reportedly, the deal for Justin Upton was going to be this: top 100 middle infield prospect Nick Franklin, top 100 pitching prospect Taijuan Walker (he was top 20 going into 2012, but struggled a bit at AA), excellent, young lefty reliever Charlie Furbush, and excellent relief prospect Stephen Pryor. It’s a very healthy package, and one that’s tough to match (though, because the Diamondbacks accepted it, and it was rejected, it now marks the absolute ceiling of what they could hope to get for Upton, should they still be dead set on trading him). The immediate pundit reaction, citing anonymous executives, was that the Mariners were going to be overpaying.
  • To put the Mariner’s offering in context, an equivalent Cubs package (and this is a VERY imprecise exercise, done only for the purposes of contextualizing) would be something like Javier Baez, Arodys Vizcaino, James Russell, and Tony Zych. The Cubs’ middle infield prospect is better, but the pitching prospect is arguably worse. The lefty reliever is worse, and the relief prospect is arguably worse. So, the M’s package is probably a bit better. How would you feel about giving up Baez, Vizcaino, Russell and Zych for Upton (who then requires an additional, let’s say, five years and $100 million)? That isn’t supposed to be a leading question, because I think reasonable minds can disagree. For me, it’s just too much, all things considered.
  • Worth reminding you that the Cubs are one of four teams on Upton’s no-trade list. That doesn’t necessarily mean he would not accept a trade to the Cubs; instead, it’s more likely that the Cubs were listed because Upton’s agent believed the Cubs were one of the teams more likely to try and trade for him (the list was likely put together early in the offseason), and thus adding the Cubs creates the possibility of leverage should they actually want to trade for him. By holding up his no-trade rights, Upton could angle for a financial incentive to accept a trade, including a lucrative extension.
  • That all said, Harold Reynolds – who is brothers with Upton’s agent – mentioned this morning that Upton has apparently repeatedly told the Diamondbacks that he would not accept a trade to the Mariners. So, maybe his no-trade list really is simply a no-trade list. (But I doubt it. Unless the Diamondbacks are the dopiest franchise in history (they aren’t), there is no reason they would go to the lengths of negotiating a complex deal with the Mariners for Upton unless they thought there was a chance he’d accept it. Which means the Diamondbacks believe Upton’s list exists only for leverage purposes.)
  • What’s to become of Upton now? Well, you might think he’s going to the Rangers, but it sounds like that might not happen. According to Evan Grant and Bob Nightengale, the Rangers and Diamondbacks were discussing Upton right up until the Mariners trade. The Rangers made a “final offer,” which the Diamondbacks did not accept. And the Diamondbacks had a request of their own, but the Rangers deemed the asking price “too steep.” There are tea leaves to suggest that the Rangers were offering third base prospect Mike Olt and pitcher Derek Holland (probably plus a little more), so it’s understandable that the D-backs would prefer the Mariners’ offer. Interesting that the Rangers still have interest in a corner outfielder, though. The signing of Lance Berkman felt like it took the Rangers out of any plausible interest in Alfonso Soriano, but might that not be the case? Eh. I don’t really see much of a connection: Upton is a 25-year-old potential franchise player. Some teams would try to get him regardless of need. Soriano is a guy you get if you actually need Soriano. I’m not sure the Rangers do.
  • The Braves remain interested in Justin Upton, and seem to be a strongly possible landing spot at this point. They’ve got the goods to make a strong offer and they’ve got the need. Plus, the Diamondbacks are obviously incentivized to move Upton. But David O’Brien says the Braves aren’t willing to give up a package of talent in the range that the Mariners were, and the Braves would be content to give 26-year-old minor league journeyman (albeit one with high upside) Evan Gattis a look in the outfield out of Spring Training.
  • Crazyhorse

    I guess it depends on which side of the fence sacrifice everything and everybody to rebuild or improving the 25 man roster while developing one farm system

    Although I like Upton and would gladly give away almost everyone that Brett suggested – I am still guilty of the hype surrounding Baez. a quality 5 tool infielder. As much i would hate to give up Baez I also know that he would have to be a part of the package for it to have any legs. This is one choice that i might regret. i would say – no its not like we are just giving up a second round draft choice to sign a CF . We are giving up talent that I feel that can be productive in the future Baez and Vizcaino Those two might have all star careers,. If the Cubs were closer to contention then the answer would be yes and i would not miss either one of them .

    • JASON

      You can really do both. Build your system and the 25 man at the same time. All things considered we had two solid drafts back to back with the 2nd pick in this years draft. We have plenty of young pitching and hitting prospects to fill the shoes of the traded. I believe you need to value your farm system but at the same time top prospects bust out every year. It’s not gambling if you receive an all star in a trade (barring injuries). It’s gambling when you give one up for prospects (who may never reach the bigs).

      • Crazyhorse

        Yes I know you can do both, it was a slight reminder to certain people.

        • Crazyhorse

          iI would sign Bourn only if the contract was under 60 million at 4 years and the only thing the Cubs gave away was a 2nrd round draft choice. i am not comparing Bourn to .Upton. Upton being the better player in production instead i am comparing time.

          What the Cubs need to give up to gain Upton might make the Cubs regret trading Baez. Also, the money and extension that the Cubs might need too persuade Upton should also be taken into consideration. what would be the final cost? 2 blue chip prospects 2 middle tier prospects and twenty to 30 million dollars on top of the salary he is making.

          its a tough question that i already answered,

  • bails17

    That would be too much IMO. I could see that deal for a guy like Stanton. Younger and cheaper…and under control longer.

  • Dan W

    Here is what I’ve been thinking all day, could they or why wouldnt the cubs offer up their #2 pick in the draft as part of a Upton deal? or is that just crazy thinking?

    • bails17

      You can’t trade draft picks in MLB.

    • JASON

      You can’t even trade your player until he has a full year in the system. So as of right now the Cubs still couldn’t trade Almora or Soler!

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    Baez, Vizcaino, Russell, and Zych?

    With no doubt about it, yes.

    • cub2014

      to replace soriano in LF I would agree to the trade. Vizcaino and Baez are the ones
      you hate to give up. But 26 yrs old under contract thru 2016 has hit .290 last 4 yrs
      with 20 ish HR power defense and speed. If it were 2014 I would definitely do it. think I would probably do it this year as well.

  • Jeff1969

    Why would Upton have the Cubs on his no trade list but not the White Sox? Just wondering?

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      Because his agent knows that the White Sox wouldn’t trade for him.

    • ncsujuri

      Jeff, it goes to Brett’s point of Upton using his NTC as leverage to get an extension from whatever team he is traded to. BoSox & Cubs both have the pockets to pony up for said extension and are both in rebuilding modes of sorts.

  • EdgewoodDirk

    Is it wrong of me to not want to give up Baez for ANYTHING? 😉

    Obviously, I could not toe that line in all circumstances or possible offers, but MAN do I want to see that guy rake for the Cubs.

  • Tremendous Slouch

    It really comes down to just how much you believe Baez is a sure thing at this point. The cubs have held on to “can’t miss” assets in the past only to watch them flame out. I’m not saying Baez is the next Patterson or Pie or whomever, I honestly don’t know enough to form an educated opinion from that standpoint.

    I would just hate to rely on the promise of things to come, when you have the potential to add a core player at 25 presumably about to hit his prime years. Should Upton meet his ceiling (and at this point, I think, that’s a safer bet than Baez maxing out) you just solidfied your 3, 4 & 5 hitters for several years to come, presumably. I think, if that trade would actually get the job done, I’d pull the trigger.

    • Seth

      I completely agree with this. However the only thing that’s holding me back is having baez’s value potentially go up after this year and use him in a package to get Price/Stanton, whom I’d much prefer over Upton.

      • Tremendous Slouch

        I see where you’re coming from, but after 30+ years of suffering at the hands of the “loveable losers” I’ve become more of a bird in the hand type of guy… :)

        Not to mention I think you’d be looking at giving up quite a bit more in either of those deals, to the point where you’re depleting you’re recently rebuilt foundation in the hopes of aquiring one player that probably won’t push you over the top.

        By aquiring Upton for arguably your top asset, but while still holding on to guys like Almora and Soler you give yourself a chance to add pieces to a growing core in the next couple of seasons.

        Just my thoughts right or wrong…

      • baseballet

        That’s a good point. I would hold onto Baez and let his value increase in the minors. Plus as a Cubs fan doomed to at least one more season watching a losing team, I need something to look forward to. Currently I can look at Baez as the savior, even if that’s irrational. He’s going to save us! [earmuffs] Everything’s fine!

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          ” I would hold onto Baez and let his value increase in the minors”

          Because this is a given?
          There is a very good chance his value right now is as high as it ever will be.

          • baseballet

            I’m willing to risk it. I say put the chips on Baez and let it ride.

          • Wilbur

            I understand the thrust of your argument, and if I had the same assessment of his talent as you I would be in full agreement.

            However, not sure why you have such a firm conviction Baez’s value is at its apex. Your assessment seems to run counter to so many other assessments. I really don’t have an opinion worth much on where he will peak, but just for the sake of the conversation I would be interested in why you see his value peaking now.


            • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

              Well, because prospects fail all the time. It’s as simple as that.
              I could say the same about any prospect in baseball and I would be correct more times than not.
              Baez’s value is more likely to decrease than it is to increase. Not saying it WILL…its just more likely.

  • SirCub

    I could buy into that deal. It would depend on the whole extension thing, but if the could get him on ateam-friendly extension, I say pull the trigger.

  • ncsujuri

    I think if that was the deal, I would do it, but I would be somewhat hesitant…

  • Wrigleyvillewest

    I continue to see Baez as the main piece of our trade for elite pitching when that time comes. Here’s to hoping his value holds till then…

  • David Nickels

    Maybe Towers knew Upton would reject the trade to Seattle, but in the process was setting the bar for what other teams would have to offer to make the deal happen.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not sure why you’d want to publicly set the ceiling. They just ensured they won’t get anything more than that. (“You want me to offer what? Pfft. No way. I know what you’re willing to accept.”)

  • kranzman54

    Man I would do Baez, Vizcaino, Russell, and Zych in a heartbeat for Upton. I understand why other people would say no, but Baez is blocked (unless we will move him to 3B or 2B or the miraculous transition to CF is complete) Vizcaino is a question mark as a starter and obviouselly Russell and Zych are replaceable. Any time I coulb trade could bes for a proven everyday starter (in this case maybe even superstar) I am excited about it.

    • JBarnes

      We have a comparable guy to Upton in Soler. Same position, better arm and possibly more power. I dont like the idea of trading Baez for Upton for that reason. Having Soler/Baez in the lineup together over Upton/Soler is more appealing to me because that means we have an above average defender on the infield (whether thats SS/3B/2B) in Baez over another corner OF.Baez and Upton’s offense might project to be similar but because Baez plays the more premium position, I think that’s the way to go.

  • Bigg J

    I would not offer that package to AZ. I don’t think they would want Baez anyway since they have taken care of their SS need already this offseason so it would be interesting on who would replace him if AZ were to accept it. All in all I agree with you in on it is way too much to offer when we can grab Stanton or Price(next year).


    In the end I still don’t think he wants to go to the Cubs. I would think he picks the top 4 teams he wouldn’t want to play for that would actually have the farm system to trade for him. Toronto, Seattle, Cubs and Boston could all fit that profile. He might not want to play for the Yankees, Giants and White Sox either but they probably couldn’t put together a trade that easily.

  • Bea Arthur’s Husband

    I want to say thank you to all of you (And Brett of course). I learn a great deal reading your very insightful pieces and comments. This is fine community. I read it every day. I’m not all that good at math, so my education goes that way too. I am a fan who has had season tickets for almost 30 years now, so that’s my baptism.

    The thing I want is to offend anyone. Please, keep arguing about Michael Bourn and Justin Upton. I’ve just a reach a point where I’m exhausted. YOu guys are having fun, so keep it up. I’m as tired of hearing about these guys as I was talking about the Hall and the Bears coaching search.

    So here are some of my personal wishes for the coming year:

    1. A better Cubs team that we can cheer for proudly. I love how hard they play, even if they seem to have no one who can truly hit in 4 spots in the order. I love the attitudes of Garza, Shark, Dale, and more.

    2. Trust in the front office. I’m completely at a loss why we constantly hear comparisons to Pie and Patterson (who had a great half season in 2003). Who is even left from that front office? Randy Bush? Ed Lynch was one of the worst GMs in history and MacFail got dumb suddenly. I can’t explain it, but it doesn’t mean Theo, Jed, and Jason and the other folks make the some dumb trades. There is nothing wrong with sticking with prospects with high ceilings. Junior Lake? Maybe someone like that. VItters too. Just not much return value there. Nothing wrong in my book with hoarding talent.

    3. Speaking of value, let’s value pitching more.

    4. Support the Dempster foundation , but never let him do another Harry Caray impression.

    5. Have faith in Crane Kenney and Tom Ricketts and the business side to get something done the stadium.

    6. Get more money from the rooftops. Change the crazy rules and all the cubs to get more revenues.

    7. Even though big contracts were offered this year, assume they probably won’t be Bourn and stop constantly trying to connect the Cubs to him. If he comes, I will enjoy him.

    8. Same for Justin Upton, who I just don’t see ever coming here.

    9. Stop taking anything Bruce Levine says as being true. I think the last time Bruce had a rumor that came true was the Stone Age. I’m not a fan of guys who make up rumors and reject them outright later.

    10. Celebrate the lunacy that is Phil Rogers.s.

    11. Keep an eye on Patrick Mooney, the best of the local writers.

    11. Celebrate the success of the BEST blogs. THe ones I don’t like? I won’t read.

  • Crazyhorse


  • Jason (Thundermug)

    Why even talk about Justin Upton because he has the Cubs on his limited no trade list so he obviously does’t want to come here so alot of useless discussion

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Even if it were true that he will 100% never accept a trade to the Cubs (and, as discussed above, that likely isn’t the case), Upton being traded could have a dramatic impact on most of the league, including the Cubs. To call it useless discussion is inaccurate.

  • Hebner The Gravedigger

    Can one of you smart stat-types figure out how many wins J-Upton would mean to the 2013 Cubs? I would like to know how many wins potentially giving up Baez / Zych / etc would equate to…

    • http://It'searly Mike F

      this is the wrong way too look at it. If that’s the standard your giving up next to nothing and that’s exactly the MO so many have bitched and moaned about Hendry for. I just think it makes sense to sell when the system is a little more stable and some of the kids, if you so choose are at a better peak value.

      The now thing always will favor trading prospects, unknown for known, but the wrong way to look at things unless you want to return to the same soup.

  • JulioZuleta

    That package is too rich for my blood. Upton is a significant step down from a guy like Stanton and so far, has failed to meet his (incredibly lofty) expectations. Has to make you a little bit uneasy that a competitive team like the DBacks have been dying to trade a 25 year old for the better part of a year now.

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    Brett its interesting and I have the highest respect for your opinion, but I think your package is light, not only in terms of the Seattle deal, but in terms of the reported Texas offer the turned down. Apparently they have also had numerous conversations with the Mets and Braves. Even assuming you’re close, 100 Million to Upton is risky. I just would never trade what it would take if I had to bribe him to come somewhere he didn’t want to be and might not be a fit. I think its moot, and I want to win now as much as anyone, just don’t think this necessarily the right time and player to do this with.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      As I said, it’s not the package I’m proposing, and it’s not designed to be a perfect comparison. Just the closest analog I can come up with to help people get context, and I even said it was lighter than the Mariners’ package.

      • http://It'searly Mike F

        No I agree and I think that’s my point, we really don’t have the same prospect bevy of pitching. They have a lot of young pitching talent. The other thing, I think really is that Arizona wants even more than Texas was offering. I share some of the peoples frustrations, I want to win now, but also think its just early to engage in the kind of transaction it probably takes to get Upton.

  • JR

    In my opinion Brett, i don’t think the Dbacks would want any part of your pretend trade scenario. I think the Seattle package was much better. Sure, Baez is a better prospect than Franklin but he’s pretty far away. And Seattle’s 3 pitchers blow the Cubs pitchers out of the water. I like Walker much more than Vizcaino. Plus the RP’s they are offering are ready to dominate in the majors now. I know it was just an example, but I am just saying..

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I didn’t say they would. I don’t know how much more strongly I could have said that this wasn’t an actual trade proposal. And I even explicitly said the Mariners package was better.

      • JR

        Haha. I posted before I saw your response to the other dude. My bad. I understand what your saying.

      • Bigg J

        Well I think this will be the last time Brett does this. Sorry for everyone not reading what you put on the piece “and this is a VERY imprecise exercise, done only for the purposes of contextualizing” and clearly states “So, the M’s package is probably a bit better.” So I am not sure where everyone is reading that you said Cubs package is equivalent.

        • JR

          OK, Bigg J. I said my bad. Brett set it up fine. I am clearly a dip shit. Thanks for re-emphasizing it again…..

  • BD

    I have a very hard time saying “yes” or “no” to that trade. Is there anybody not named Baez or Castro that you could put in that first slot that wouldn’t drop so far off the table it would become laughable?

  • Diamond Don

    Keep Baez!!! I wouldn’t give up Baez in any Upton trade. Baez is the Cub’s 3rd baseball of the future.

    • DarthHater

      I’d give up a whole bag of 3rd baseballs for Upton. 😉

  • matty ice

    Time to play “Is it racist”?

    “Harold Reynolds – who is brothers with Justin Upton’s agent”

  • Crazyhorse

    Ever wonder that maybe the Gm for Arizona is pretty smart? Maybe the deal to Seattle was all smoke and mirrors to to gauge the trade value and set a trade value for Upton.
    We have countless times that Upton has a no trade clause to The Cubs – how about the other teams ? Can Arizona Trade him to any team that not on his no trade clause, If that is true than that Gm did Arizona a favor – Now teams will come to him – knowing what type of value he wants in return. nice

    • Crazyhorse

      I have ugly grammar ,but that made my head hurt hmmm

  • Spriggs

    I would give up Baez, Vizcaino, Russell, and Zych for Upton. Very tough to trade Baez! I’m very much in on all the hype surrounding Baez – and fully understand we might live to regret it. But I believe in the good Upton even more.

    I suspect that most Cubs fans opposed to this hypothetical trade, probably would have been opposed to a similar deal a couple years back if it involved Vitters. Baez carries an even greater risk.

  • Jason (Thundermug)

    I’m sorry Brett for my previous comment I did go too extreme saying it useless my applogies to u.

  • sclem21

    ‘but the pitching prospect is arguably worse.’

    Maybe im nitpicking here, but let’s just be clear Vizcaino is INarguably a worse prospect than Walker.

    One guy has a legit shot at being a #1 starter and isnt still coming back from a scary injury and is two years younger. The other might close some games for you (still really valuable but…) and on the dreamiest of all dreams has #2 starter upside…but most see him as a reliever.

    Theo would have a heart attack if he saw a Vizcaino for Walker swap sitting in his inbox. I realize you were compensating for Baez being ahead of Franklin but the ‘arguably’ part may be misleading to some who don’t realize what a monster Walker is.

  • Freshness21

    I have to believe that Baez is a sure thing. We need him to be a sure thing. It is too early for us to package prospects for that missing piece and Upton is not that piece. We need another 1-2 years of selling high on our guys for other teams’ prospects and good drafts.

  • ruby2626

    I don’t care if the guy is 25, I’m not giving up Baez for a guy who just hit 17 homers in over 600 PA’s. For the last year we’ve been hearing all this hype on Baez, Soler and Almora. I just want to see how it plays out, will they be great players or the 2nd coming of Corey Patterson and Gary Scott? I’d rather skip out on Upton and find out.

    Agree with the caller who said something is wrong when you are actively trying to unload a 25 year old with such supposed talent.