With Justin Upton trade rumors swirling, the young outfielder is garnering attention from many of baseball’s top organizations. The Rangers, Yankees and Braves are just a few teams mentioned in the rumor mill.
But Upton has achieved much success while playing in the underrated NL West for years. And the San Francisco Giants are in the market for a marquee outfielder. Upton donning a Giants uniform begins to turn into an enticing picture.
The younger Upton brother is a five-tool player. His 2012 statistics include a .280 batting average, .355 on-base percentage, 18 stolen bases, 24 doubles, 17 home runs, 67 RBIs in 150 games played, according to MLB.com. While his numbers at AT&T Park were paltry last season (.216 batting average, no home runs and only two doubles in 37 at-bats in 2012), Upton is a talented enough player with enough youth to be able to adjust to hitting in a pitcher’s ballpark.
Plus, Carlos Beltran had great career numbers at AT&T…until he actually put on a Giants uniform.
In addition, Upton fills a need in the Giants’ outfield. Gregor Blanco served his time as Melky Cabrera’s replacement in left field admirably, but he’s an A+ bench player at best. Many sports analysts point to Josh Hamilton. Even Las Vegas is in on the Hamilton-Giants merge, giving the Giants the largest odds of landing the superstar Texan. This is surprising, considering San Francisco GM Brian Sabean does not have a rich history of, well, throwing his riches around. Barry Zito’s $126 million contract is the last major free-agent signing made by Sabean, and let’s just say he’s gotten a little gun shy.
So, what would it take for an Upton trade to the Giants? The Diamondbacks have depth at outfield, which includes Upton, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton. The Diamondbacks do have two key areas they need to fix in order to contend in 2013: starting pitching and a third baseman.
The Giants’ Joaquin Arias is a huge defensive strength at third base, but misses playing time due to the presence of Pablo Sandoval. He’s young, with a good swing, and provides consistency at third. Package him with a couple of higher-end prospects (not including Gary Brown, who Sabean refuses to part with), and a deal for Upton becomes a possibility.
There is always the wild-card move of proposing an Upton-Tim Lincecum trade in the offseason. The Diamondbacks may be looking for more star power before parting ways with their own superstar, and Lincecum’s future in San Francisco past next season is highly questionable. This might just be the right time to unload Lincecum in return for a premier player in Upton.
Moving Upton and Lincecum would not only be one of the biggest moves in the NL West this offseason but in the division’s recent history.