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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.
  • Fastball

    This Upton thing isn’t really worth trying to figure out. He isn’t coming to Chicago and he doesn’t want to come to Chicago. Trying to figure out what it would take to make a trade with Arizona is a waste of time for our FO. I think Arizona’s FO needs a reality check. Did they even talk to their guy before the went to all the trouble to work out a deal he could say NO too. Why would they even go down that path. Must have been bored with nothing else to do. If Theo gets that bored then somebody needs to go in his office and slap him out of his stupor.

    We need to let go of dreaming about something that isn’t going to happen no matter how many prayers are said before going to bed at night..

    • Dob2812

      You need to stop assuming people know as little as you do.

      • DarthHater

        I need to stop reading these comments. :-P

  • Fastball

    You don’t have to worry about giving up Baez. He isn’t going anywhere. These are the crowned jewels of his franchise right now. Trading Baez, Soler,Almora is about likely to happen as having the auto lotto pick you a winning ticket.

    • Featherstone

      No. Castro, Rizzo, Shark are the crown jewels of the franchise right now. Baez, Almora, Soler and everyone else are just assets.

    • Kyle

      I think to many people tend to forget that prospects are exactly that, merely prospects. Half of them don’t do what they are supposed to anyways. A good number of everyday players in the majors were not considered quality prospects.

      • Marc

        Kyle, Epstein wouldn’t call those guys core pieces for no gosh darn reason.

        • DarthHater

          Well, talking up their potential “asset” value would be one reason. Trying to keep the fan base appeased would be another. But I think Kyle is correct that it’s just a numbers game when it come to trying to predict whether a given prospect will or won’t be part of the major league team’s core in the future. Nobody’s suggesting that Baez, Almora, and/or Soler won’t be such players. Just that their chances are no greater than the chances of other similar prospects and that those chances are always far from 100%.

      • http://It'searly Mike F

        I agree with that. I think in general we overvalue the concept of prospects. But that said, I also think we sometimes overvalue players that fit a need. I started out coveting Upton a year ago. But its clear there a couple issues. He’s kind of hit a bump in terms of performance and I understand there are some explanations. He also wants to play in Atlanta with his brother. And maybe most importantly there are strong indications Arizona wants to move him because of attitude. I keep going back to the whole idea of a team bringing in Cody Ross and making him available. There’s a huge gap in the perceived value between those two players which has to raise questions as to why Arizona wants to move Upton.

        Finally, Upton doesn’t want to play for the Cubs at a minimum without being bought in in a big way. I think again putting them on his limited no trade is not a small thing. And I just believe another year does nothing but build value with Baez and give the FO a better fix on what they have. But if they trade him and others for Upton I won’t cry, I just want to point out this exactly the kind of thing people pissed and moaned about Hendry. And like it or not, if the Cubs were to trade for Justin Upton, extend him to get him to buy in, that too would come with risk.

        • Marcel91

          I’d like to add that yes prospects are just that. But that’s why you try your hardest to accumulate as many impact talent prospects as you can in an attempt to increase those chances. If even 1 or 2 of our next wave become legit impact players then your happy. But the only way to make that happen is by stockpiling surplus farm talent as we’ve seen with Texas, washington, and so forth.

  • T Larson

    Arizona Sports afternoon announcers think that Justin Upton really wants to go to Atlanta and play in the outfield with his brother. Wolf feels that Atlanta may sweeten the pot a little to acquire him. Doug feels the reason the Diamondbacks want to get rid of him is because he has a bad attitude. Wolf lso rplied that he doesn’t think Uptn has the right (mental) strength at this time. He really wants to play with his brother and closer to his childhood home which is in Virginia. hey both commented o there beig less pressure in Atlanta.
    Sorry Cub fans. Well at leastthose who wanted Upton.

  • Mick

    Baez is the one silver bullet the Cubs have to acquire just about any player. Do you want to use that bullet to get Upton? When you look at the Cubs needs for the short term and long, to me, our greatest need is a left handed starting pitching ace and it just so happens one of those will be coming on the market next offseason. It also has to make you wonder why the DBacks have been so eager to trade him the last 3 years.

  • Fastball

    okay I was talking about minor league players. Shark isn’t a crown jewel … he hasn’t proven anything yet. If he does a better job than last season then he gets some consideration. He just looked good last year because the rest of the staff in the second half was the worst in baseball.
    I know everybody loves him but he is overrated at this point until he shows he can improve on what he did last year which was just okay.

    • Marcel91

      lol What? Statistics show Shark was one of the top 20 starters in baseball last year and if you exclude that one month stretch before the break and he was in the top 10-15. He was good regardless of how bad the rest of the staff was. It was very impressive what he was able to do his first year starting and he’s not one of those “fringe overachiever” type guys, he has frontline stuff and a workhorse body. Give the guy some credit, he’s not overrated.

      • Scotti

        It’s also important to note that his bad month was the result of them trying to change his breaking pitch. Once he went back to what he had been throwing he was stellar again. Top asset on the team. Guys with that kind of stuff are rare.

        • Marcel91

          Yea they we’re trying to teach him a curveball. Once he scraped it he was almost dominant from then on.

          • Internet Random

            Joe Niekro was pretty dominant when he scraped the ball… with sandpaper or emery boards.

  • Chris

    Can’t. Tell. If. Trolling….

  • frank

    Biggest news surprise of the day: Milton Bradley charged with domestic abuse . . .

  • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

    I can forgive Hendry lots of things, but never for the Bradley signing. This isn’t second guessing. I live in San Diego, and remember how he hurt his knee, going after an umpire in a blind rage before being tackled by a coach (or was it his manager?)

    They couldn’t get him out of town fast enough.

    I hope Bradley’s cellmate is a 250 pound, horny, karate expert.

  • August

    Good pitching. More good pitching. The only way any of our prospects bring value back in trade is for high-upside pitching prospects of the starter variety. That’s my vote, anyway.

  • Die hard

    One carrot for good players would be a domed stadium like Brewers because playing conditions sick until late May and again after Labor Day

  • daveyrosello

    I still think the Cubs should try and sign Valverde to a 1-year deal. Cubs need another late inning reliever, might as well try and improve the team in some area–bullpen in this case–since other areas (offense) clearly aren’t going to be addressed for 2013.

    • Marcel91

      If he’ll take a late inning job without being handed the closer job then I’m all for it.

  • August

    I propose mink-coat home uniforms for the Spring months.

    • Internet Random

      Yes please!

  • Crazyhorse

    Sometimes i feel people just need to express their opinion (right or wrong) it is one way we can actually learn and gather information. What i hate is when people use debate techniques to prove a point. Sometimes the facts can be twisted and who ever debates the best is thought to be correct- which is simply not true sometimes.

    The fact is the Cubs have lost 101 games last year . The team was a terrible team . these are the facts . What i do find promising is the Front Office have changed it behavior since last season. The Cubs have sign better free agents . They have also tried to sign players and failed- sometimes effort counts.

    This front office was green in running a baseball team. they have made its fair amount of mistakes..

    I think as Cub fans we all have a right to discuss get angry be happy and express our feelings

    If anybody feels that the Cubs Front Office will not make mistakes then they are wrong.
    If anybody feels that the Cubs Front Office is just a plain stupid that is not correct either.

    Anybody can point fingers

    lets point to one thing that matters
    The Cubs record 61 wins and 101 loses

    Is Hendry to blame – yes that is why he lost his job.
    Is Theo Epstein to blame Yes – he did not improve the team and the Cubs record was the worst in 40 years
    those are facts

    stop giving excuses and start expecting results

    Just because Someone in the Cubs organization has effectively given Cub fans low expectations . it dont mean we need to settle for premium draft choices- our goal every year is to improve the parent team and the farm as best as we can with the budget.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t agree with all of that, but I sure did like your first paragraph.

      • Marcel91

        Agreed. Was actually about to say the same thing. It was year 1 in an overhaul of this franchise the likes of which we’ve never seen. It was expected. Year 2 brings more moves, more expectations, etc

        Side note: people want to blame Theo for not improving the team but think about it. Last years free agent crop was weaker than this years, there was no way to improve. We added additional core pieces in Rizzo, Shark, etc and turned a bottom 5 farm system into a top 15-20 over night, would have been more had the Garza/Dempster situations went as planned.

        Last season wasn’t as much about wins as it was progress. And progress was definitely made last year if you look at the bigger picture which most cubs fans refuse to pay attention to.

        The nats lost 93 games just two years ago, a .500 team after that and look at where they are now, best record in the league last year . Rebuilding doesn’t happen over night, it’s a process. As far am I’m concerned last year was a set-up year for the following ones.

        • crazyhorse

          stop giving excuses and start expecting results- maybe this is what he was explaining

          • BWA

            I expected results and got them. The new FO said they would improve the farm and they did. They said they would trade short term assets for long term assets and they did. They said they expect to be competitive in 2014, and it certainly looks like they will be. You are always saying that 2013 was a big failure because we lost 101 games, but maybe the new FO realized that missing the playoffs with 85 losses isn’t any better than 101 losses, and since they knew they couldn’t make the team they were given a playoff team, they went all out and met their other goals. Plus now we get the #2 pick as well to further strengthen the system.

            • MichCubFan

              Getting Anthony Rizzo in a trade for an unproven relief pitcher says a lot for what the front office did last year.

              They had very little to work with as an organization and at the major league level.

              You can look at the Ian Stewart trade and say they made mistakes, but that is the reality in running a baseball organization.

              They go through the right processed to get the results they are looking for. It might not fit your time frame but you probably don’t have realistic expectations, either.

              I just don’t get why random people on the internet think they are smarter than our front office…

              • Stevie B

                I still think something fishy went on with that trade. No way did the Pads give up on Rizzo that easy.

                • JR

                  Yeah, I have a hard time believing that Cashner was the best the Pads could have gotten for RIzzo. Glad it happened for sure, but something has always seemed off on that deal for me..

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    Easy to forget just how well thought of Cashner was at that time, though. He was more highly thought of as a pitcher than Rizzo was as a hitter. But he was coming off an injury, while Rizzo was merely coming off of ineffectiveness. That’s what balanced it out.

                    • JR

                      I thought most believed Cashner was only a bullpen arm, because he couldn’t stay healthy. He’s always had durability issues. RIzzo was bad in his first taste in San Diego, but I always thought they robbed SD.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Cubs feared he would be only a bullpen arm (obviously San Diego disagreed). So far, obviously, it’s been a steal for the Cubs.

        • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

          Last year’s free agent crop was significantly better than this one’s.

          Samardzija was in place before Epstein got here, and had already been promised a shot at starting.

          The Nats needed something like seven consecutive terrible seasons to get to where they are now, and still needed the two best No. 1 overall picks of the last decade to do it. I’d rather not rebuild the Nats way.

    • BT

      Crazyhorse, maybe you don’t want to start your lengthy post by admitting that “facts can be twisted”, then proceed to state over and over that facts are facts while pointing out the W/L record of a rebuilding team. Here’s a “fact”. Theo’s main concern last year was NOT to improve the team’s record. That would have been a nice side benefit, but they would not have traded Dempster, Maholm, and everyone else they could last year if that was the case.

      Also, the idea that this front office is “green” in running a team is just about the most absurd thing I’ve heard today. And I listened to sports talk radio today.

      • Drew7

        Queue the “limp-wristed” Stewart insult…

        • crazyhorse

          is his wrist healed? can he swing bat? thats the only thing that comes to mind.

  • cheryl

    Crazyhorse, I agree with much of what you said. I haven’t been too crazy about some of the things the FO has done. They are accountable for their mistakes, but they should also get credit when they do something right.To me it seeems like they are too much attached to who they knew and when. But we can see an improvement in the farm system and they’ve modernized the FO. But Hendry had the last draft of Baez, V and others and Ricketts made it possible to have a good draft.This year we should get a good idea of how far the team has progressed. If they have another 90 to 100 loss season that’s on Theo and Company’s watch. But I don’t expect the team to be as bad this year. I have my doubts about Sveum but again his efforts should be given credit if they succceed.

  • Dustin S

    I just don’t see Upton accepting a deal to the Cubs being too realistic. If his no-trade list was just leverage for an extension he would have gone to Seattle with more money. MLB Network says he told AZ recently he wouldn’t accept a deal to Seattle, they figured he was bluffing for money, they wasted time working out a deal, and surprise…he didn’t accept. Fun to ponder, I am just surprised so many think it could still happen. Even without the no-trade, the price is way high. He’s good and young, but $100M plus 3-4 top prospects for a guy who has a rep of a bad attitude? His bad attitude is the primary reason AZ is dealing him. This is a guy who got booed at home last year (even with nice numbers) and said he didn’t care anything of what fans thought of him. That on a likely 85-90+ loss 2013 team would be a recipe for disaster in Chicago.

  • james

    I don’t know if anybody talked about this earlier. If they did I throw it out again. If Mariners was willing to send the same prospects to the Cubs for Starlin Castro it would be a hard trade to turn down. There was alot of talent that could turn a team around in a year or two. The problem that I have is that postion prospects are alittle easier to gage on. Pitching prospects are more of a crap shoot. Theo said last year that Castro could be traded if they were overwhelmed. Would those prospects do it?

    • BWA

      That package isn’t even close for Castro for several reasons. Shortstop is a hard position to fill with elite talent. Castro is younger than Upton. Castro has already signed a very team friendly extension and is under team control for longer than Upton. Replace the two relievers with two starters and maybe you have a deal.

    • Marcel91

      Those prospects wouldn’t even be close to what it’d take to get Castro. Think a small step below what it’d take to get a Trout, Harper, Stanton level player and then ask yourself if you’d take 2 relief pitchers, a starter, and an outfielder for them. That answer is probably no. Talks would have to START with Walker, Hultzen, and Paxton. Yes, all three.

      • truthhurts

        Then add Zunino (when eligible) and you have a deal.

  • Fastball

    Lets debate something… I think I’m ready…

    • crazyhorse

      wrong crazyhorse

    • crazyhorse

      but go on -

  • Fastball

    Lakawak… Cocaine is too enhancement performing…. although I wouldn’t call it beneficial to baseball performance. Maybe if your on the bench watching for 3 hours it will keep you talking to your teammates about living in the Dominican during the winter.

  • Fastball

    Ooooops…. good memories

  • The Dude

    Happy Friday, all! I haven’t read all the comments because I just got in and I think we all have pretty much made our decision on whether or not Justin Upton meets the criteria for a blockbuster trade. … I’m just not feeling this one. I think Upton has the ability to be an all-star caliber player for the short-side of a decade but the asking price, to me, doesn’t fit well with our current system. Sure, we have the prospects available to make the trade but we’re not at a point where those prospects are expendable. My position on this one: Stay the course.

  • Abram_the3rd

    Many people are on here are saying “yes” to trading away these four prospects for Upton. However, has anyone given the thought that you would be trading away your biggest trade chip on an outfielder, who would be gone in a several years. During which, a couple of those are your probable non-competive years.

    Your biggest trade chip is gone for the time and possibility of a RHP by the name of Price perhaps becomes available in trade within a year. You want to get rid of that chip? For an OF when you have some nice OF prospects within the system, coupled with time for them to grow, and you want to add Upton and block them? While trading your biggest chip for something “now” instead of holding for down the road? How many proven, legit, #1’s become available through trade or free agency? Not many..

    I say, hold onto the chip for another season. then put together the right package to get that #1 we’ve been starving for in the last decade.

    Note: I know they’re living human beings and not “chips” …

  • HateDemp

    I don’t understand why the Diamondbacks don’t win it all every year – they have Justin Upton and the Marlins have Stanton, they should win it all. Oh, its not basketball where one guy is usually the difference. Some of these trade ideas strike me as Hendry era esque.

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

      Hendry’s trades were generally excellent. We should be so lucky.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Buy trades, yes. Sell trades, not so much.

        • Marc

          The last two I remember…DeRosa and Lilly…were perceived as good values, and the DeRosa one actually increased in value when Archer made progress.

          Personally I thought the Mariners were getting a good deal.

          • King Jeff

            Lily and Theriot getting traded for Blake DeWitt was not perceived as a good value here.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Not at the time, and not a year later, either (ultimately, shouldn’t the “success” of a trade be evaluated long after the fact?).

              • King Jeff

                True, we should wait to judge, but I remember being upset that they traded Lily for what they did, not only because of the bad return on a very productive and dependable lefty starter, but also because of the loss of a chance at draft pick compensation for Lily. I think he was a type A free agent that year.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Definitely – I wasn’t saying don’t judge at the time. I’m just saying that, now that we’re talking about track record, we should probably be viewing through a “how did it work out” lens. Because if a deal looked crappy the day it was made, but then turned out to be a steal, the GM should get credit for that (because maybe he out-thought everyone).

                  • King Jeff

                    Yeah, I see your point.

              • Pat

                The “success” will always be judged in the rear view mirror. But the “wisdom” of a trade (or whether it was a good trade at the time) should be judged immediately. Otherwise it’s like saying you should wait to see the end of the hand before deciding if matching an all in with two three off suit was a good idea.

                • http://Isa Voice of reason

                  The wisdom of a trade does not have to be determined immediately.

                  When the indians traded the cubs sutcliffe Joe Carter and others, Indian fans weren’t feeling the wisdom of the trade. but two to three years later they did.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  For whatever it’s worth, I always say there are two times to judge a trade or a signing: the day it happens, and then several years down the road. It’s important to evaluate at both junctions.

      • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

        Yea trades such as traschel and Larry Monroe were great trades. Henry made a couple of good trades about ten years ago. Since then he was terrible at drafting, trading and signing free agents. There is a reason why the cubs are terrible right now.

  • Huch

    Why didn’t we just straight up trade Brenly for Upton? They would have gone for that right?

  • Timmy

    He would help the team but I have to think that it’s extremely unlikely that the Cubs will pursue him at this point. They’re still thinking reach 500 by 2017 and his contract is up in a couple years. We won’t give him a 20 mil extension until he’s proven himself further.

    • Jared

      reaching .500 by 2017?! idk where you got that from but i hope its sooner than that lol…..

    • RoughRiider

      Any FO striving to play .500 five years down the road better be looking for new proffessions.

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