Justin Upton: Why the Detroit Tigers Should Avoid Trading for D'backs Outfielder

Josh BerenterCorrespondent INovember 13, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 02:  Justin Upton #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks at bat against the Colorado Rockies during the MLB game at Chase Field on October 2, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It's no secret that the Arizona Diamondbacks have been shopping 25-year-old right fielder Justin Upton.

Upton was the Diamondbacks' No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft and made his Major League debut for Arizona just two years later at age 19.

He made his first All-Star team in 2009 and was selected as an All-Star again in 2011, a year in which he won the National League Silver Slugger Award and finished fourth in the NL MVP voting.

But after his breakout year in 2011, Upton struggled last season to match any of his numbers from the year before. He is now widely considered as one of the most prized big-name players on the trade market.

But despite Upton's accolades, and the fact that the Detroit Tigers need a corner outfielder or two, the Tigers would make a bad, lasting mistake if they made a move for Upton.

Upton, who has shown signs of being a five-tool player, hit just .280 last season with 17 home runs and 67 RBI's in 150 games after batting .289 with 31 home runs and 88 RBI's in 159 games in 2011. Upton stole 18 bases and had an OPS of just .785 last season, compared to 21 stolen bases and an .895 OPS two seasons ago.

Upton's decline in production is a big red flag for the Tigers, and the price tag that would come with his acquisition definitely raises some eyebrows as well.

The right fielder is signed with the Diamondbacks through 2015, and, while Upton only made a combined $11.2 million in 2011 and 2012, he is due to make $9.75 million next season, $14.25 million in 2014 and $14.5 million in 2015.

If the Diamondbacks decide to part ways with their 2005 first-round draft pick, they wouldn't just give him away.

ESPN baseball analyst and insider Tim Bowden tweeted that the players the Tigers would need to give to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Upton would possibly include pitcher Drew Smyly, outfielder Avisail Garcia and No. 1 prospect Nick Castellanos.

Last season, Castellanos hit .405 with three home runs, 32 RBI and 37 runs in 215 at-bats for Advanced Single-A Lakeland. He then hit .264 with five home runs, 25 RBI and 35 runs in 322 at-bats for Double-A Erie.

Castellanos was named MVP of the MLB All-Star Futures game. Garcia and Smyly have the ability to be stars, as well.

Smyly, who earned the No. 5 starter job out of training camp last season, went 4-3 with a 3.99 ERA in his first 23 career appearances, including 18 starts. When the Tigers acquired starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez, Smyly was moved to the bullpen and performed extremely well as a reliever.

Garcia, who played most of last season with Elevated Single-A Lakeland, was a September call-up, but because of his stellar performance to begin his Major League career, the 21-year-old made the postseason roster.

He averaged .319 with a .373 on-base percentage and three RBI in his first 23 career MLB games and held his own under the bright lights of the MLB playoffs, batting .261 with four RBI in 12 games. Because of his lightning-quick progression, Garcia will most likely make the Tigers' Opening Day roster next season.

Beyond Upton's numbers and the players the Tigers would have to give up to acquire him, the biggest thing the Tigers should question is why the Diamondbacks want to get rid of a 25-year-old, two-time All-Star who was supposed to be their franchise player.

Why would Arizona part ways with a first-round pick who has averaged 20-plus home runs, 80-plus RBI and 20-plus steals?

There's something wrong that the Diamondbacks aren't sharing with possible suitors. With what the Tigers would have to give up to get Upton, the risk is definitely not worth the reward.