MLB Rumors: Trading Justin Upton Would Be a Mistake
Only two weeks away, the Diamondbacks will begin to receive more calls about Upton. Unless they receive an overwhelming offer, the team would be better off keeping him.
At 42-46, the Diamondbacks sit in third place in the National League West. They trail the San Francisco Giants by 6.5 games for the division lead; they also trail the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates by seven games for the two wild card spots.
It may be time for Arizona to consider selling, but they do not need to blow things up. After winning the NL West in 2011, they have not had the same pitching this season.
Upton enjoyed a monster 2011 season, and he is looking to get back to hitting like that.
The Diamondbacks are a good offensive team, and they can turn it around with some help from Upton.
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Justin Upton is one of the most exciting young players to watch and has a great skill set.
The 24-year-old outfielder trails Jay Bruce by 20 home runs for the most by a player 25 years old or younger.
He has great power and drives in runs in the middle of the lineup. Paul Goldschmidt and Jason Kubel are hitting .300 behind Upton, so he will begin to see better pitches as they continue to produce behind him.
In 2011, he worked his way into the NL MVP conversation by hitting .298 with 31 home runs, 88 RBI. The two-time All-Star has great potential and led the team to a postseason berth last season.
Before this season began, ESPN.com lists his batting average at .273 or higher (including .300 in 2010) in three straight seasons.
Upton also possesses good speed and has stolen at least 18 bases in each of the last three seasons. With 10 steals so far this year, he is on pace to do it again.
He takes his fair share of walks and has an on-base percentage .347 despite a relatively low batting average.
The Diamondbacks have seen how good he can be on offense, so they would smart to hold on to him long-term.
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Although it is limited experience, it's postseason experience nonetheless.
In 2007, Upton hit .357 in six games during the playoffs. That is a good batting average for anyone, but that was during his rookie season.
During the 2011 postseason, Upton struggled to consistently hit but hit two home runs in the NLDS against Milwaukee. The Brewers pitched around him, and his team was eliminated in five games.
Postseason experience is important for any team to have, and it is good to have as much experience as possible.
Plenty of Time to Make a Run
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Despite having a large deficit to overcome, it is only July 16. With over two months remaining in the regular season, the Diamondbacks can catch fire and make a run this season.
The top of the order has been very good, but the bottom needs to improve.
Chris Young and Stephen Drew are both hoovering around the .200 mark, so any production from them in the second half could put the team right back in the thick of things.
Pitching got them to the postseason last year, but it has been a disappointment this season.
Wade Miley has stepped up this season and was named to the All-Star team. Joe Saunders and Trevor Cahill have been decent, but they have not been good enough to put the team in the first place.
Ian Kennedy won 21 games last season and has taken a step back this season. He is five home runs away from equaling the amount he allowed in 2011, and he is only 13 runs away from his total last season.
Daniel Hudson won 16 games for Arizona last year, but he has been dealing with injuries so far in 2012. When he has pitched, he has struggled at times.
If the pitching pulls it together, the Diamondbacks have the talent to contend this season. They could also use a boost from Upton, but he is not their problem.
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As ESPN.com reported in 2010, Upton is signed through 2015. His contract is one of the largest in team history, but it is not a monster contract.
"$6.75 million in 2012, $9.75 million in 2013, $14.25 million in 2014 and $14.5 million in 2015."
For a player with his skills, it is a contract that the team can handle. With many stars pulling in $20 million per year, the Diamondbacks have a talented player under control for three more seasons.
He can also veto a trade to four teams, but FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi mentions the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs as the teams he can block a trade to.
Last season, all four teams on his no-trade list were in the AL. With the addition of the Red Sox and Yankees this season, it appears he would prefer to stay in the NL.
The Diamondbacks should not trade a guy inside of their league when they will have to face him for years to come.
Instead of trading him to a team they are chasing, his contract allows the team to add to the current team and make a push for the postseason.
Lack of Value in Return
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When a player like Upton is dealt, there should be equal value being returned to the team. However, it looks like Arizona may not get a great return for him.
When CBSSports.com's Chris Cwik's reported the Pirates were serious in their pursuit of Upton, it was unknown whether or not they would include any top prospects in a deal.
As Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted on Monday, it does not appear the Pirates will part ways with any top prospects.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 15, 2012
Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are two of the Pirates' top pitching prospects, so the Diamondbacks would probably want one of them included in a deal.
The Pirates appear to be willing to trade Starling Marte for Upton since they are both young outfielders.
Upton is a great player, and Arizona should not settle for a deal. Unless they get a team to deal multiple top prospects or an established player with a top prospect, the team should hold on to Upton.
While the team will consider trading him, it would be in the team's best interest to keep Upton.