As word came out this week about a potential trade for the D’backs outfielder Justin Upton, most noticed it with the same blase’ attitude that they have held regarding a trade for the talented 25-year-old this off-season. In fact, while the D’backs have consistently tried to trade Upton this offseason, they have not been able to find the proper dance partner in a deal for the two-time All-Star.
Aug. 28, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton in the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
That dance partner stepped onto the floor this week in the form of the Seattle Mariners, who by many baseball writers accounts, put a package on the table that the D’backs accepted. This prospect-laden package that the Mariners offered was supposed to seal the deal and this entire saga would be over.
Upton blew the deal up though, when he exercised his limited no-trade clause in his contract (Seattle is one of four teams he could nix a trade to) to remain in the Valley of the Sun . While this will continue the Upton speculation for the time being, this could not have been good for the relationship between Upton and management. If anyone was holding out hope that these sides would patch up their differences and figure out a way to peacefully co-exist, that seems very, very unlikely.
When it comes to the D’backs outfield conundrum, GM Kevin Towers has not managed this entire situation well from my point of view. He was in a very difficult situation when we had four outfielders and teams knew we would have to potentially get rid of one. When he signed Cody Ross, he seemed to be giving away any potential leverage he had left in making a quality deal. If he thought that he was getting low-ball type offers when he had four outfielders, imagine the offers he is getting with five outfielders.
Feb 24, 2012; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks executive vice president and general manager Kevin Towers (right) and managerKirk Gibson
during spring training at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Which makes the Seattle offer a minor miracle by all accounts. According to experts, Seattle was actually offering too much for Upton. The deal included top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker, offensively-gifted shortstop prospect Nick Franklin and two more prospects, believed to be young major league pitchers Stephen Pryor, a right-hander, and Charlie Furbush, a lefthander. According to CBS Sports, the package was notable in that several competing executives expressed surprise at how much Towers got for Upton. Walker is considered one of baseball’s very best pitching prospects and Franklin is an exceptional hitter by many scouts in the minor leagues. But, when asking around one National League executive called that package “a major overpay” and an AL exec summarized it as “steep.”
Towers finally pulled the trigger on a deal that he felt would get value for Upton and the mercurial outfielder demolished it. This had to be mindbogglingly frustrating for the aggressive GM and while he will continue to preach patience in any deal that he may strike, he had to be furious that Upton nixed the deal.
I am now definitely convinced that Upton will be the player traded to alleviate the log jam in the outfield and that he will not be in a Diamondbacks uniform in Spring Training.
While I was holding out hope that they could patch up their differences, the organization just needs to end this saga for the team’s sake moving forward. The last thing manager Kirk Gibson needs is a major distraction as he heads into this season off of a disappointing campaign last season. It is extremely unfortunate, that for whatever the reason may be, that Upton and the organization do not seem to be a match anymore. The sky is the limit for the outfielder and maybe a change of scenery is what is needed for him to realize his full potential. But, it is extremely disheartening that this will not happen in Arizona.
My only caveat to the realization that Upton will most likely be gone is that Towers needs to continue to hold out for a good deal. He needs to keep grinding away and hope that he can strike a deal soon with the likes of Texas, Atlanta or Baltimore. Unfortunately for all involved, it needs to be done and the marriage between Upton and the D’backs needs to be dissolved for all to prosper in the future.