Justin Upton: Would He Veto A Trade To Seattle Now?
By Dan Hughes
Almost two years ago, the Seattle Mariners had pulled off what could have amounted to a blockbuster trade. The Mariners had reached an agreement with the Arizona Diamondbacks that would’ve presumably sent Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor and one of either Taijuan Walker, James Paxton or Danny Hultzen to Arizona for Justin Upton.
Only one problem.
Upton vetoed the deal. Whether it was because he didn’t think Seattle was a contender (even with him) or whether he was holding out hope that the Atlanta Braves would make a trade offer – which they did – so Upton could go play with his brother B.J. Upton, who had just signed there is anyone’s guess.
But two years later, the Atlanta Braves are reeling. They are looking to dump payroll and with Upton as a free agent after the 2015 season, they may be willing to part with the younger Upton to rebuild their program.
Enter, the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners are STILL looking for a right-handed power bat that can play a corner outfield spot. They are looking for protection in the lineup between Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager.
When I suggested that the Braves may be willing to trade Upton in a previous post, a reader commented saying, “Upton big-timed us two years ago when invoking a no-trade clause to Seattle. Why would he waive that now?”
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Because the Seattle Mariners missed the playoffs by one game this season. The Braves were under .500.
It is a gamble? Absolutely. Upton may still elect to become a free agent after 2015. So, who the Mariners give up for Upton becomes every bit as important as what possible benefits they may get in having him in the lineup.
It took four prospects to land Upton two years ago. But with only one year left on his contract, it would take significantly less for a deal to get done now.
Atlanta is seeking starting pitching first and foremost. Preferably, Major League-ready talent. Their next area of need is outfield and then bullpen. So why not send Roenis Elias to the Braves with Charlie Furbush and a lesser OF minor leaguer – say Stefen Romero – to Atlanta for Upton.
Or why not send Roenis Elias and Dustin Ackley to Atlanta for Upton? I love Ackley, have loved watching him since he was at North Carolina. But J-Up is a left fielder. Ackley is a converted left fielder. And if Michael Saunders is healthy, I’d rather have him in right than try to teach Ackley.
In terms of money, Upton’s contract for 2015 is at $14.5 million – less than what it would cost to presumably pay Nick Markakis or Nelson Cruz to fill that role. It also leaves some payroll flexibility to still go after another bat (Victor Martinez or Michael Cuddyer?) and a top tier pitcher (Max Scherzer or Jon Lester).
And if all goes well for the Mariners in 2015, perhaps the club stands a chance at re-signing Upton in the offseason, or signing him to an extension before the season ends.
And to be able to get him without giving up Walker or Paxton would be all the more reason to get it done.