Let me be clear: I do not want to see star right fielder Justin Upton traded. I feel it would be a big mistake for the Arizona Diamondbacks to trade a 25-year old player with bundles of talent and five full years of experience at the Major League level. Did I mention he is under contract for three more years and that the team is a year removed from a division championship? Perhaps a year from now or even 2014 I could change my mind. But not now, not when some tinkering this offseason can return the D’Backs to postseason play. Plus, if they wanted to go to a full transition mode, they can trade Upton after next season and not resign Aaron Hill and Jason Kubel. That’s a discussion for another day.
Now that we are pretending to play general manager, here are three landing spots for Mr. Upton.
New York Yankees: There is a potential opening in right field with Nick Swisher probably not back and perhaps Ichiro Suzuki as well. Our cohort Joe F over at yanksgoyard proposed the Yanks get Upton for Catcher Gary Sanchez, 2B David Adams, SS Eduardo Nunez and RHP Brett Marshall. It is a prety good deal when you consider that Sanchez is the Yanks’ #1 rated prospect according to mlb.com. The problem is that the D’Backs are locked into Miguel Montero at catcher and Nunez, while an excellent hitter, is a butcher in the field. A more realistic trade for Arizona would be Upton for starting pitcher Phil Hughes, lefty reliever Boone Logan and outfield prospect Tyler Austin. Logan would be the lefty in the bullpen the team is seeking and Hughes would strengthen the rotation particularly if the team decides to start Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer at Triple A Reno.. Austin is New York’s #3 rated prospect and can realistically start in right field in 2014.
Texas Rangers: With super prospect Jurickson Profar making his MLB debut last season, rumors are swirling that the Rangers would be looking to deal shortstop Elvis Andrus. Right field seems to be locked up in Texas with Nelson Cruz but trading for Upton could be a hedge for the Rangers in case they lose Josh Hamilton. Arizona’s primary every-day need is at shortstop and Andrus is still only 24 and signed through 2014. A trade sending Upton to the Rangers for Andrus, outfielder Craig Gentry and lefty pitcher Martin Perez would fill needs for both teams.
Pittsburgh Pirates: One does not normally associate the Bucs and the acquisition via trade of a big name player. Pittsburgh could make an exception in this case for Upton as his contract calls for slightly less than $10 million this season before jumping over $14 million in 2014 and 2015. An outfield combination of Upton in right and Andrew McCutchen in center would make for one fearsome duo. The Pirates’ #3 rated prospect is shortstop Alen Hanson who is probably at least two seasons away but has the makings of a superstar. Recently added Cliff Pennington would have to hold down the fort for the D’Backs until Hanson is ready. Also to be included for Arizona would be Garrett Jones who would be asked to return right field and left handed pitcher Justin Wilson, the Pirates’ #7 rated prospect in their system.
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