Justin Upton Could Be On The Move, D’Backs Engaged In Active Discussions

Once again, the Arizona Diamondbacks are trying to trade right fielder Justin Upton reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

Major-league sources, however, say the team is again engaged in active discussions about Upton, and one estimates the chances of him playing elsewhere next season are “80-20.”

The Diamondbacks need a shortstop, and Upton possibly could bring them a player such as the Rangers’ Elvis Andrus.

Upton, 25, is signed for $9.75 million next season, $14.25 million in 2014 and $14.5 million in 2015.

His no-trade list last season consisted of four teams: the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs, but the list has since changed, a source said.

One can always dream right?

Original Post 11/5 

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com polled 22 General Managers and Assistant GMs on a variety of hot stove season topics, seven questions in all. Of the seven I found these two to be the most compelling.

Given a choice between these two speedy free-agent center fielders, B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn, which player would you rather sign?

Responses: Bourn 14; Upton 7; no opinion 1.

The outfield position is well-stocked this winter, with Hamilton, Angel Pagan, Torii Hunter, Cody Ross, Shane Victorino, Nick Swisher and Ryan Ludwick all readily available for the right price. Upton and Bourn make for an intriguing debate because they’re close in age, play a premium defensive position and provide different skills sets.

Upton, 28, has become a different hitter with age. Since 2008, his home run total has increased from 9 to 11 to 18 to 23 to 28. In that same span, his on-base percentage has taken a free fall from .383 to .298. According to FanGraphs, Upton swung at 15 percent of pitches outside the strike zone five years ago. Last season, the percentage spiked to a career-high 32.7. Although Upton’s power contributes to his allure, his streakiness and lack of plate discipline detract from the overall picture.

Bourn, who turns 30 in December, leads the majors with 257 stolen bases since 2008, and is second in the big leagues with 59 bunt hits and 175 infield hits in that span. This year Bourn hit .311 before the All-Star break and .225 after it, substantiating the notion that he tends to wear down in the second half.

Although Upton has one of the best throwing arms among big league center fielders, Bourn grades out significantly better in the new-age defensive metrics. He has led center fielders in Bill James’ runs saved rankings in two of the past three seasons.

The baseball people who preferred Upton believe his power tool will stand the test of time better than Bourn’s speed.

Justin Upton, James Shields and Chase Headley all have been mentioned as potential trade candidates. Which player do you think is most likely to get dealt this winter?

Responses: Shields 15; Upton 5; Headley 1. One respondent split his vote between Upton and Headley.

After a flurry of Upton trade speculation died down in July, Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick and club president Derrick Hall said Upton was unlikely to be dealt this winter. But Upton’s name has been bandied around twice now, and it’s resulted in some collateral damage that’s going to have to be mended moving forward.

Several people we spoke to said GM Kevin Towers is intrigued by the thought of moving Upton and getting a mother lode of talent in return. Towers is one of baseball’s premier front office “gunslingers,” and the rare GM with the chutzpah to move a budding superstar if he thinks it’s in his team’s best long-term interests.

“I think the Diamondbacks are motivated to move him and change the culture in their clubhouse,” an NL assistant GM said. “They have a ton of depth in the outfield and can improve their club immensely because they should be able to get two or three quality players in return.”

The Diamondbacks recently traded Upton’s good friend Chris Young to Oakland, but they still have Jason Kubel and Gerardo Parra on the roster and prospects Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock in the mix. Towers also might look to add a young outfielder in any deal involving Upton.

Padres general manager Josh Byrnes pried three prospects and Edinson Volquez loose from Cincinnati in exchange for Mat Latos, and the expectations are that he would aim very high for Headley, who hit 31 home runs and posted a higher Wins Above Replacement (7.5) than Andrew McCutchen, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre and Yadier Molina in the FanGraphs WAR rankings.

Everyone expects Tampa Bay GM Andrew Friedman to shop pitching for offense, and he has lots of alternatives. Shields is reasonably priced at $10.25 million in 2013 with a club option for $12 million in 2014. Friedman also could move Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann. Or if he wants to turn the entire baseball world completely upside down, he could entertain offers for David Price.

Crasnick also asked his group to predict where Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke would land and for how much money, among other provocative questions. Click here to read the entire article.

Over at MetsBlog, Matt Cerrone suggested that the Mets should look to trading both Jon Niese and Lucas Duda for Justin Upton. He writes:

I have to think Upton is the kind of hitter that might warrant such a move. The Mets do not want to trade Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler, who I imagine will intrigue Towers. However, the buzz in baseball is that Arizona is looking for established, major-league pitching, not a bundle of prospects. Niese is affordable, young and under contract, which is why it might make sense to move him for a young, under-contract outfielder.

Although I like Justin Upton, I like a young lefthander with a team friendly contract a lot more, so I would hesitate in moving Niese for him. I don’t believe the Mets and D’Backs match up very well for a trade. The pieces don’t seem to work.

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