Should The Seattle Mariners Go After Melvin Upton Jr?
After a failed attempt to trade veteran outfielder Melvin Upton, the Blue Jays released him prior to Opening Day. Should the Mariners be interested in the former #2 overall pick?
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports Upton is set to clear waivers on Wednesday and is unlikely to be claimed thanks to his $16 million 2017 salary.
Should the Seattle Mariners be interested in Melvin Upton? Can he help this team? The answer to both questions is, simply, yes. The Mariners should aggressively pursue all avenues to improve this team.
Upton enjoyed a minor renaissance is 2016, posting his first 20 home run, 20 stolen base season since 2012. However, he is not the perfect control the zone hitter. He posted a mediocre .238/.291/.402 slash with a 28.8 percent of his at-bats ended with a strikeout.
Upton is still a solid defender at all 3 positions. In almost 1,000 innings in left field during the 2016 season, posting a solid 4.1 UZR/150 (0.0 is average). He still posted a solid 2.1 UZR/150 in center during the 2016 season, but those days might be behind him. Upton has a solid average arm too.
Upton is also an above average baserunner, posting a BsR (base running score) of 5.1 in 2016 (0 is average). He also was successful on 27 of 35 stolen base attempts, a 77% success right.
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Upton is an ideal platoon partner with Jarrod Dyson. Against left-handed pitching in 2016, Upton slashed .275/.341/.533 and a wRC+ of 132. When he is not playing, Upton provides the versatility to play all 3 outfield spot and a base stealing threat off the bench.
Signing Upton also allows Guillermo Heredia to get everyday at-bats in Triple-A Tacoma and adds to the overall depth of the organization.
Upton may not be a massive upgrade over Heredia, but he has a track record that Heredia simply doesn’t. Upton is unlikely to get more than a few million dollars on a 1-year deal and might be forced to take a veteran minimum deal. Signing Upton is a no risk move for the Mariners.
The Seattle Mariners were dealt a blow with the injury of Drew Smyly last week. Instead of overpaying for a veteran pitcher, the team can simply improve their defense to help its pitching staff.
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Whether Melvin Upton is willing to accept a platoon situation is unknown. At just 32 years old, Upton could look for a full-time job to set up his next contract. But if he is willing to listen, the Seattle Mariners should aggressively pursue this opportunity.