The Arizona Diamondbacks got off to anything but an ideal start to begin the second half of the season, getting swept in a three-game series to the Chicago Cubs. After a very promising series with the Dodgers leading up to the All-Star break which saw the D-backs pull within four games of the division leaders, Arizona fans everywhere were disappointed to see the let down in the windy city to drop a couple games in the NL West standings.
With the poor start to the second half, coupled with an unfortunate injury to slugger Jason Kubel, many have begun to write off the D-backs as the trade deadline nears. I personally believe it’s too little early to write off anyone in the very unpredictable N.L. West, which has seen a different division champ in each of the last three seasons. That hasn’t stopped numerous sports writers across the country from labeling the D-backs as “sellers” as the trade deadline nears.
This has triggered many to speculate the fate of Arizona’s most valued asset, All-Star outfielder Justin Upton. After a career year last season which saw him pound 31 home runs, 88 RBIs , and earning his second all-star selection, Upton has struggled mightily this season. He has appeared frustrated many times this season and has even verbally expressed his frustrations about being given a couple days off earlier this season.
The truth is, Upton is young (24), good, and under team control through 2015 to an affortable contract. If the D-backs were to trade him this season, they would be able to cash in when his value is at it’s peak.
Arizona GM Kevin Towers has publicly stated his is not “shopping” his All-star outfielder, but would listen to any offers made. He even had a meeting last week with Mr. Upton to calm his nerves and advised that if there were any serious discussions involving a trade, that Upton would be involved in the process.
If you would have asked me in April about the possibility of Justin Upton being available at the trade deadline, I would have most likely laughed at the suggestion. The truth is, this management team has made it clear in the past, that no player is above the team, and any trades or transactions made would be in the best interest of the team.
Current suiters for his services include the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Atlanta Braves. Each team has a wealth of young elite prospects that could easily excel at the big league level. The question is, who are they willing to give up?
Upton has not lived up to the expectations are that he is being held to. He is our franchise player and has not played to that level. That’s not to say that he can’t turn things around. He’s young, he plays with fire, and has all the talent in the world to excel at this level of play. If he wants to stay in Arizona, he needs to play at an elite level and keep the D-backs in contention year in, year out, and all season long.
Regardless of your opinion on Mr. Upton, we can agree that it will be interesting to see how the next couple of weeks play out.