The rumors continue to swirl just a few weeks shy of the Winter meetings and the Mariners are still lurking.
Meanwhile, Atlanta has already made some noise by shipping Jason Heyward to St. Louis and are continuing to shop Justin Upton. It sounds like Upton moving is just a matter of time, but the asking price may be a bit steep.
According to MLB Trade Rumors not only are the Mariners interested, but they also fit the mold the of what the Braves are asking for in return, pitching.
The Braves added Shelby Miller and another minor league arm in exchange for Heyward. With the asking price being higher for Upton, who does have better power numbers than Heyward, that has to make the Mariner fan nervous.
Everyone has heard, and even I have written, that Taijuan Walker may or may not be on the block for the Mariners. Walker has an upside that might be the higher than any other pitching prospect in the game.
Here is the problem. Upton is signed only through 2015, another obvious fact as to why the Braves are shopping him now. They will most likely lose him after 2015 so it’s time to deal him and gain in return. This is a common sense move in baseball, it’s either that or extend him for the long-term. I don’t believe the latter is where they are leaning.
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Remember, the Mariners were just recently taken off of Upton’s no-trade list. So if the Mariners do in fact make the move for Upton, chances are he probably will not sign a long-term deal with Seattle. So essentially, a one year rental is what Justin Upton turns out to be….and good-bye Walker.
If this deal is to get done it has to come with more than just Upton.
Can this deal get done without losing Taijuan Walker? Probably not. That being said, what else would the Braves throw in? Probably not Evan Gattis as was once rumored.
It’s sounding more like the Braves are wanting to hang onto Evan Gattis as they are said to be one of the favorites for Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas. An outfield with Gattis, Tomas and Freddy Freeman would hit more than a few homers.
Quite honestly, I can not see the M’s shipping Walker anywhere, for anyone. He is the number one pitching prospect in the organization, perhaps all of baseball, and he still hasn’t broken the threshold of big league time as he has just 8 starts under his belt.
If not Walker, then who?
In the small chance the M’s can swing a deal for Upton without losing Walker, it may be done with Hisashi Iwakuma. Losing Iwakuma would be a blow to the current starting rotation but not the long-term blow that Walker could be.
I don’t think the Braves would immediately shoot the possibility of Iwakuma down. ‘Kuma would probably fit into the two or three slot in the Braves rotation, and really add some starting pitching depth and give them a formidable 5-man rotation.
With Iwakuma (31 years of age) having perhaps one more decent contract in his career, there is a great chance he would sign with Braves long-term if they were to offer.
Bottom line, I think the Mariners should pass on Justin Upton if the Braves refuse to waiver from Taijuan Walker. There is still plenty on the free agent market to acquire an Upton-like bat.