Let the Justin Upton rumors begin anew
Those on-again, off-again trade rumors regarding Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton are on again, this time with Arizona GM talking with reporters about it at baseball’s GM meetings. He’s telling reporters they aren’t shopping Upton, according to reports, but they’re listening. This time, maybe the Tigers have a better reason (and a better case) to try for him than they did before.
Nick Piecoro, who covers the Diamondbacks for the Arizona Republic, reports Towers saying there’s “a lot of interest” in Upton. He also relays word on twitter that the Tigers were doing their “due diligence” and “background work” on Upton, though it isn’t clear whether the two sides have had any talks.
On the surface, there’s a fit for Upton in Detroit. The Tigers are looking for an upgrade in one of their corner outfield spots, they’d like to have another right-handed hitter to improve their lineup against left-handed pitchers, and they’d like to add some athleticism to their offense. Upton, who has posted at least 17 home runs and 18 stolen bases in each of the last four seasons, fits the mold. He’s just 25 years old and he has still has three years before he’s eligible for free agency.
Those same reasons why Upton would appeal to Detroit, of course, are reasons for him to appeal to a lot of teams. They’re prime reasons why Towers would listen on him, because he can demand a lot in return and still shed a contract that will pay Upton $38.5 million over the next three seasons.
It’s not hard to see how Upton would fit in Detroit. It’s how the Tigers would obtain him that’s the tricky part. They have talent they can offer, but it’s whether they have better talent to offer than other clubs (remember how many clubs are reportedly looking for outfield help, including the Rangers, Yankees and Red Sox) do.
Whether the Tigers have a lot to offer depends on how untouchable their minor-league prospects are. It would be a shock if Arizona didn’t ask for Nick Castellanos as part of a package in return, given the look of their lineup. Avisail Garcia could be another prospect of interest coming off his impressive postseason. Detroit’s sudden drop in top pitching prospects could be a factor unless the Tigers could be a factor, though the Tigers will have six candidates for five rotation spots (with Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly at the end) if they re-sign Anibal Sanchez.
Re-signing Sanchez and trading for Upton brings the team payroll to an unprecedented (for this club) level. It would also be a rare win-now move that would actually not make the team any older.