Standing in an interesting contrast to last evening’s report that the Chicago Cubs were not on Cole Hamels’ lengthy no-trade list (I still have some questions about that), here’s something new from Jon Morosi:
Justin Upton's updated no-trade list allows him to block deals to Cubs, Brewers, Indians, and Blue Jays, source says. @FOXSports
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 11, 2014
I have made no secret that I’d like to see the Cubs pick up a quality, short-term outfielder like Upton this offseason (indeed, Upton is probably right up there at the top of the list), so this news is extremely relevant.
You’re wondering how this contrasts to the Hamels situation, and what we should make of Upton’s decision to put the Cubs on his no-trade list.
Well, this is a very different situation from Hamels in a number of respects. For one thing, Hamels can name 20 teams to which he cannot be traded without permission, whereas Upton can name just 4. That changes the calculus in which teams you select quite a bit – Hamels can name a bunch of teams he legitimately doesn’t want to go to, AND name a bunch of teams purely for trade leverage purposes. Upton does not have that luxury. For another thing, Upton doesn’t have a team option at the end of his deal that would make for an obvious leverage point in approving a trade, which was one of the reasons we were so easily able to conclude that some of the teams on Hamels’ no-trade list were likely there for leverage purposes.
So, then, what doest this mean? Well, it’s possible that Upton flat-out doesn’t want to come to the Cubs. If you look at the other three teams, I could make an argument that it looks like a collection of places Upton simply doesn’t want to go (with apologies to Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Toronto, they are not always the most popular destinations for players, in terms of the location).
I suppose it’s possible that Upton and his reps believe the Cubs are a likely trade candidate, and Upton elected to put on his list three teams he simply didn’t like, and one team for leverage. That leverage being … an extension demand? As I said, I guess it’s possible.
In the end, given the very small list and the composition of the teams, I’m not particularly optimistic that Upton will be traded to the Cubs any time soon. Sure, it’s possible a deal could still be struck and Upton would give it the OK (he previously blocked a deal to the Mariners before being traded to the Braves), but, unlike a very large list that includes many teams for many reasons, this is a small list. The Cubs are on there for a reason, whatever it might be.
At least there are lots of outfield trade candidates out there this year, from Upton’s teammate Jason Heyward to Denard Span to Alex Gordon to Michael Saunders to the Red Sox’s abundance of guys to the Dodgers’ crowded lot.