John Harper of The Daily News discussed a potential trade parallel between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. The idea is to trade Mets RHP prospect Noah Syndergaard for a return of Atlanta Braves outfielder Justin Upton. Neither team has publicly entertained the deal, but it has traction.
It certainly makes more sense than signing an underwhelming free agent simply because the spending signals a desire to win, or because it’s all that’s available. Upton would immediately transform the Mets lineup, so what needs to happen in order for this to be more than a rumor?
The Braves need very little for this deal to manifest. Upton is an elite talent, but the Braves have a solid farm system and will likely decide to hold on to homegrown right fielder Jason Heyward when he and Upton are available for free agency next season. Atlanta will spend money when needed, but they’re a well balanced club that does their best to be efficient. They’re in a transitional stage with their talent and should be considered a logical candidate to shed soon to expire contracts while simultaneously stockpiling elite talent. Syndergaard would be a welcomed addition on nearly any MLB team and his assets speak for themselves, particularly in a league that covets power pitching.
Upton is the exact type of baseball player the Mets should target, if a bold move like shipping Noah brings him to Queens in 2015, he is one of a short list of players worth doing it for. Of course there are obstacles, the biggest being team control and finances.
The 27 year old slugger would have to sign an extension prior to putting on a Mets uniform, likely in the neighborhood of 7 years, $120+ million, and this is just a conservative estimate. This means Mets ownership would have to expand payroll anywhere around $20 million more than 2013 levels. The Wilpons have boldly claimed there’s flexibility, but is there any truth to that?
If this rumor picks up even a little bit of steam and manifests into a real discussion between the clubs, any effort by the Mets to avoid executing the deal would be the first real stress test of this team’s financial health. If Atlanta showed interest and Upton stated a willingness to strike a long term deal, the onus would be on the Mets to push payroll closer to or over $100 million.
The return would be a game changer for the Mets though. He’s a toolsy and athletic ball player whose averaged 147 games, 25 home runs, 90 runs scored and 80 RBI over the last six seasons.
Critics will cite his high strikeout totals and his 2014 campaign won’t help counter the argument. He had 171 strikeouts this year and strikeouts are already a major issue with the Mets. The odd thing is, he still managed to produce a .270 average, and .833 OPS, 34 doubles, 29 home runs and 102 RBI along with those strikeouts. Plus if Kevin Long is every bit as good as they say he is, Upton would only thrive as he enters the prime years of his career.
Joe D recently lamented on the dwindling window to acquire Giancarlo Stanton, who could likely sign a long term contract that would make him a Miami Marlin well past his prime. A deal for Stanton was always a long shot, but it was certainly more than a fabricated rumor. A trade for Justin Upton should be more than that too.
Lets! Go! Mets!