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MLB Trade Rumors: The Addition of Justin Upton Would Make Pirates NL Favorites

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 07:  Justin Upton #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks breaks his bat as he hits against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the MLB game at Chase Field on July 7, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christopher BenvieCorrespondent IIJuly 17, 2012

It has been 20 long years since the Pittsburgh Pirates played .500 or better baseball this late in the season.

Barry Bonds was their star player. Jim Leyland was the manager. The Bucs would go on to lose the NLCS in seven games to the Atlanta Braves.

Why bring it up now?

For the first time in a very long time, the Pirates have a team both worthy and capable of post-season play behind the solid leadership of NL MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen.

Bonds had Andy Van Slyke batting before him and Jeff King after him. Neither the former nor the latter player will be enshrined in Cooperstown any time soon.

For all the criticism received by Bonds for not showing up in the playoffs or pressure situations while in Pittsburgh, Pirate fans don't need to see if the same would be the case for McCutchen.

With the Cincinnati Reds losing their MVP, Joey Votto, for several weeks to undergo knee surgery, now is the time for the Pirates to take control of the NL Central.

Pirates General manager Neil Huntington needs to open the channels of communication with the Arizona Diamondbacks and bring disgruntled star Justin Upton to PNC Park.

In 12 career games at PNC Park, Upton has put up solid numbers, going 10-for-35 with three doubles. His batting line is .286/.419/.371/.790. 

True, his power numbers are missing, but the sample size is fairly small.

While he is having a down year, Upton is ambivalent towards Diamondback fans and has been getting booed at home games. A change in scenery may be just what the doctor ordered.

Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi suggests that in order to make a trade of this magnitude the Pirates would have to sacrifice one or both of their prized prospects: outfielder Starling Marte or right-hander Jameson Taillon.

While the price tag may seem steep, the Pirates should not scoff at the asking price. Upton is just 24 years old, a two-time All-Star, Silver Slugger award recipient and came in fourth in the 2011 NL MVP voting.

The price tag is worthy.

Adding Upton to this lineup would offer protection to McCutchen and deepen the middle of the batting order in a manner that Bucs fans have not seen in two decades.

They say that everything happens for a reason. The Pirates should look at Votto hitting the DL as a sign from the baseball gods to strike while the iron is hot.

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