After facing Justin Upton several times each year over the past five seasons, the Seattle Mariners will now have the 4-time All-Star on their own side.
In hopes of boosting the productivity of their outfielders, the Mariners signed Justin Upton to a major league deal on Wednesday after he was released by the Angels at the onset of the season. Upton is being paid $28 million by the Angels this season (the last year of a 5-year, $106 million contract he signed with Los Angeles in 2018); the M’s will only need to pay him a prorated version of the $700,000 veteran’s league minimum salary.
Currently, Seattle has two mainstays in its outfield in Jesse Winker and Julio Rodriguez, but Mitch Haniger, the team’s stalwart in right field, has been out with an ankle injury since April 29th. Right field has rotated between utility man Dylan Moore, journeyman Steven Souza Jr., and youngster Jarred Kelenic over the past month, but Kelenic was recently sent down to Triple-A while Moore and Souza simply haven’t gotten the job done as everyday starters.
While Justin Upton has certainly had success in his 15-year MLB career, it’s unlikely he’ll return to the form that earned him All-Star nods in 2009, 2011, 2015, and 2017; Upton has missed a significant amount of time due to injury over the last three seasons, and hasn’t hit higher than .215 during that stretch.
Along with the awkward nature of earning $28 million from the Angels while playing for a division rival in the same season, another odd aspect to Upton’s signing with the Mariners is the fact that he denied a trade to Seattle after a strong 2012 season with the Diamondbacks. Hopefully, bygones can be bygones and Upton will come out strong for a Mariners team in desperate need of outfield help.