MLB Trade Rumors: Arizona Diamondbacks Must Keep Justin Upton

Aaron Dodge@Aaron_DodgeAnalyst IJuly 8, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 08:  Justin Upton #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a RBI triple against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on July 8, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The rumor mill is beginning to churn and Justin Upton's name is appearing more and more often, as the Arizona Diamondbacks again seem open to moving their young star. The 24-year-old has been dangled in the past, but he would surely net a bigger haul this time around. 

Jon Heyman of CBSSports reports that interest in the right fielder is said to be "huge."

Upton batted .289 with 31 home runs and ranked 14th in the league in doubles (39) and eighth in runs scored (105) in 2011. He was elected to the All-Star game and was awarded the Silver Slugger award for his production. 

You get a rare package in Upton; he's got youth on his side and experience on his resume. Most highly touted prospects hit their stride and make their debut at this age. Yet 2012 will mark Upton's sixth season in the majors since making his debut as an 19-year-old in 2007.

Upton has been performing and improving at this level for a long time now and has yet to exhibit signs that he's peaked. Defensively, where Upton has struggled at times, is also an area he's made great strides in recently. 

Despite his .966 career fielding percentage, he's posted a .977 percentage since 2009. Upton's three errors in 77 games (.982) this season rivals his career-best season in 2010 (.985). 

2012 has been an odd year for him at the plate, however. Statistically, it compares to his 2010 season, which is a tad concerning. Upton experienced a breakout in 2011, and so far he's followed it up by regressing.

His average, slugging and on-base percentages are all below his career averages. Everything he's done to this point suggests Upton, who finished fourth in the MVP balloting last year, has had an uncharacteristic first half. 

Could a permanent change of scenery help lift him out of this funk? Sure, but that's far from the only solution. Remaining patient is a far better idea. The two-time All-Star is under team control until 2016. While he can always be traded, he certainly can't be un-traded.

It would be in Arizona's best interest to see what type of a ceiling Upton really has production-wise. It's highly unlikely that he's maxed out at 24 after drilling 31 homers as a 23-year-old.

The Diamondbacks may have one of the league's most dynamic budding stars in their grasp—what more could they hope to acquire in a trade?