Lukewarm Stove: The Justin Upton Package, and Where the Diamondbacks Go From Here

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Lukewarm Stove: The Justin Upton Package, and Where the Diamondbacks Go From Here

Chicago Cubs

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.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.