Justin Upton Trade Rumors: News on Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates and More

Doug Mead@@Sports_A_HolicCorrespondent IJuly 16, 2012

Justin Upton Trade Rumors: News on Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates and More

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    In 1963 legendary recording artist Nat King Cole recorded his hit song "Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer." While baseball wasn't mentioned in the lyrics, the word "crazy" can definitely be used to describe the MLB non-waiver trade deadline.

    The middle of the summer is a time in Major League Baseball that can without a doubt be termed crazy, especially as July 31 approaches. Rumors fly about specific players like mosquitoes drawn to unsuspecting flesh.

    One of the players currently being mentioned in various rumors is a surprise: Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton.

    At the beginning of the season, Upton appeared to be an anchor for the D-Backs—a player whom it was believed would be a stalwart in their lineup for years to come.

    Those days appear to be gone.

    Rumors about Upton began surfacing in June, when D-Backs owner Ken Kendrick publicly expressed his disappointment in Upton's play, calling him "an enigma."

    As the month of July rolled around, the rumors really began in earnest.

    And that's where Bleacher Report comes in. We will break down each and every rumor involving Justin Upton and keep you up to date on all of the latest speculation.

    There's no need to go anywhere else—bookmark this article for all of the latest news concerning Upton's status.

Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall: Justin Upton Not Going Anywhere This Season

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    With all of the talk surrounding Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton and where he might end up playing for the remainder of the 2012 season, two prominent front office executives voiced their support of the embattled star.

    D-Back's team president Derrick Hall told ESPN.com on Tuesday that there was a "close to 100 percent chance nothing happens" with Upton between now and the trade deadline.

    "I would be completely shocked if anything were to happen in-season," Hall said. "You have a better chance of moving a star-caliber player like Justin in the offseason, when teams know exactly where they finished and where they're heading, and they can get more creative.

    "We'll field all proposals and conversations. You never know. But I would be surprised if anything happens in the offseason, either."

    In addition, Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick told USA Today on Monday that it was a "reasonable assumption" that Upton would be Arizona for the rest of the season.

    "I think we're better off with him on our team," Kendrick said. "I think this whole thing has gotten way more attention than it deserves."

    Stay tuned.

Is Trading Justin Upton Already a Foregone Conclusion?

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    With all of the rumors surrounding the status of Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton lately, it would have been natural for some to assume that the buzz wasn't warranted.

    After all, plenty of players come up in rumors all the time, right?

    However, in this case, it seems that the buzz is warranted.

    Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported on Wednesday that Upton will indeed be traded—it's just a matter of when.

    It would appear that the Diamondbacks will be in sell mode, as Nightengale also said that shortstop Stephen Drew is likely to be dealt by the end of the month as well. So, if GM Kevin Towers gets a deal to his liking, Upton could very well be gone, too.

    Nightengale also tweeted that Upton would consider a deal to the four teams on his no-trade list (Red Sox, Yankees, Indians,

Upton's Agent Rips Anonymous Team Sources for Character Attacks

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    When Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton's name started appearing in various trade rumors, several publications cited sources that questioned Upton's character and willingness to win.

    Last Thursday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports cited "rival executives" who said that the Diamondbacks "are not convinced that Upton is a winning player."

    Upton's manager, Kirk Gibson, fired back after hearing about Rosenthal's comments.

    "I would never comment until somebody puts their name on it," Gibson said. "I mean, these things are almost amusing. You can find executives. You can find a ton of people. Anybody can say anything. They're just throwing things against the wall. Well, if that's his opinion he should put his name on it.

    "I'm amused by the people, the 'rival executives' or people that are afraid to put their name on it. Speak up."

    On Monday, Larry Reynolds, the agent who represents Upton, also reacted angrily to the various comments attacking his client's character.

    "Justin wants to stay, but I know trade rumors and trades are part of the business,'' Reynolds told USA TODAY. "What I don't like are the comments and innuendos made about Justin's work ethic and character, especially from those gutless people that don't want to put their name by a quote.

    "This young man is one of the hardest workers I've been around and more importantly, he's a good person. If they want to trade him, that's their business, just knock off the unfounded, negative rhetoric."

    It certainly wouldn't be in the best interests of the Diamondbacks if they were the ones attacking Upton's character. That would only serve to water down a return package.

    I have never been a fan of citing "anonymous" sources. All too often, writers hide behind that veil when reporting on anything of significance.

    Upton is only 24 years of age, and while he is clearly experiencing a down season, that by no means indicates in any way that he's not a winner.

Upton to Receive Trade Scenario Updates from GM Kevin Towers

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    Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers has been in the baseball business for a long time—he spent 15 years plying his trade with the San Diego Padres before joining the D-Backs over 18 months ago.

    However, even Towers is surprised at the number of calls he has received in recent days as the MLB non-waiver trade deadline fast approaches.

    "I'm getting more calls than I ever have at the deadline," Towers told Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. "I don't know if it's because of (Justin) Upton's name being out there or what. There are just so many people in the buy mode. I've had only one team telling me, 'Here's a list of guys you can have.' Everyone else is trying to improve their club."

    Is there really any doubt that it's because of Upton that Towers is taking so many calls?

    Towers also told Nightengale that if and when the situation presents itself, he will be talking to his right fielder about the teams who are interested in acquiring him.

    "I told Justin that if we're at the 1-yard line, I'll tell you the teams that are interested," Towers said.

Justin Upton No-Trade List Includes Three Contending Teams

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    With Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton rocketing to the top of the charts concerning trade talks, there are three teams currently in contention who are apparently out of the running.

    Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported on Monday that sources have confirmed that the four teams on Upton's no-trade list are the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs.

    With three of the teams being among the best markets in baseball, does Upton not want to shine in the spotlight?

    There is no indication that Upton would block trades to these particular teams. As Rosenthal and Morosi pointed out, oftentimes players will include high-payroll teams on their no-trade lists as a way to induce a better overall package.

    In any event, Upton hasn't helped his trade value much lately, going 0-for-weekend against the Chicago Cubs, and is now homerless in the month of July.

Justin Upton and GM Kevin Towers Have Sit-Down Regarding Trade Rumors

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    On Saturday, Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic tweeted that Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers had a sit-down with right fielder Justin Upton to discuss the various trade rumors surrounding his star player.

    Here are several tweets from Piecoro regarding Towers' comments:

    GM Kevin Towers spoke with Justin Upton about trade rumors. "We had a good conversation. I think he gets it."

    — Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) July 14, 2012

     

    Towers said he told Upton he'd give him a heads up if something is about to go down.

    Told him: "Should look at it in a good way that people like you, not just Dbacks, but you’re perceived very, very well throughout baseball."

    Maybe I'm wrong, but those certainly sounds like the words of a GM who is clearly ready to deal.

Will the Texas Rangers Be Involved in Talks to Land Justin Upton?

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    The Texas Rangers already have the best offense in the American League, leading in runs scored, hits, batting average, OBP and total bases.

    They're apparently looking to add more.

    At least it seems that way, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com:

    Source: #Rangers have some interest in #Dbacks Upton but trading Olt orProfar doubtful & definitely not both for high profile bat or arm.

    — Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) July 13, 2012

     

    Honestly, I'm not sure why the Rangers would have interest, unless they feel that there's a chance they don't sign current superstar Josh Hamilton for the long term.

    In addition the Rangers already have a fairly good right fielder in Nelson Cruz, who's locked up through the 2013 season, so in the immortal words of that famous 2003 movie, something's gotta give.

Is Justin Upton Up for Trade Because of His Attitude?

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    On Thursday Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports intimated that Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton could be on the chopping block because of a perceived attitude problem.

    According to Rosenthal:

    Remember that the D-backs beat the division-leading Dodgers in their final three games before the break. Then ask yourself: Why is this team considering a trade of right fielder Justin Upton?

    The answers, rival executives say, are fairly simple. Team officials are not convinced that Upton is a winning player. And the D-Backs could benefit if they turn Upton into two or three future pieces.

    Not convinced that Upton is a winning player. Wow.

    Those are fighting words.

    Upton hasn't helped his cause with recent comments, especially concerning his fans:

    You know what? To be honest with you, I don’t care anything about what the fans think of me.

    My teammates, my coaches, they know I come in here and I bust it every single day. I come in here and try to do everything I can to help this team and my teammates have my back.

    That may be true, but it doesn't look good when you're ripping local fans who want and expect more from their All-Star right fielder.

Will the Atlanta Braves Be in Play for Justin Upton?

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    Earlier last week ESPN's Buster Olney speculated that the Atlanta Braves could be a fit for Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton:

    Another Justin Upton fit could be ATL. Could build deal around Prado,P prospects. Prado plays 3B for Ariz., Upton takes Bourn $ slot in '13.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 11, 2012

     

    Olney is of course assuming that Bourn will not re-sign with the Braves in this scenario. Bourn is making $6.85 million this season and eligible for free agency at the end of the year.

Will the Pittsburgh Pirates Be All-in on Justin Upton?

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    Last Sunday, Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates, currently battling for the lead in the NL Central with the Cincinnati Reds, have already made inquiries into the availability of Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton.

    Morosi believes that GM Neal Huntington is desperate to find a solid cleanup hitter for his lineup as protection for No. 3 hitter and potential MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen.

    McCutchen will likely be pitched around more often in the second half if he continues to be protected by the likes of Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee, neither of whom invoke fear in the eyes of opposing pitchers.

Are Health Concerns the Reason That Justin Upton Is on the Trade Block?

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    On July 8 Buster Olney of ESPN wondered aloud whether or not the Arizona Diamondbacks have suddenly become willing to deal right fielder Justin Upton because of health concerns (insider subscription req.).

    Olney opines:

    Wrote here yesterday about how some rival evaluators are comparing the Diamondbacks' willingness to talk about a Justin Upton trade with the Rockies' marketing of Ubaldo Jimenez last summer. Right away, teams are attaching red flags to this situation, because they want to know this: Why would the Diamondbacks be ready to move a talented and accomplished 24-year-old who is signed for years to come? Upton has 98 career homers already, two All-Star appearances and many strong years of production ahead of him, in theory.

    There is some concern among rivals about whether Upton has a chronic shoulder problem, dating back to this injury.

    Upton suffered a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder in his first season in professional ball, back in 2006.

    In September 2010 Upton re-aggravated the injury, causing him to miss all but five games over the final month of the season. At the time Upton received a consultation from noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who told Upton that the labrum tear had not gotten worse.

    There is absolutely no word of any injury concerns surrounding Upton at this point, so Olney's speculation could indeed be just that.

    However, it certainly raises an interesting point.