Justin Upton Trade Scenarios: Top Package Every Suitor Would Offer
Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton is the most talented man on the trading block this offseason. Each of his suitors would send several of their own finest players to complete a deal.
"There's a very high likelihood" that the D-Backs will retain the 25-year-old, according to team owner Ken Kendrick (via Jon Heyman, CBS Sports).
GM Kevin Towers has been overwhelmed with proposals since the 2012 non-waiver trade deadline, but hasn't pulled the trigger yet.
What could force his hand?
Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic writes that Towers seeks high-quality help on the left side of the infield—at shortstop or third base—and in the starting rotation.
Knowing that, he would have to seriously consider the following packages.
Detroit Tigers: Nick Castellanos and Drew Smyly
Smyly spent the first half of 2012 in Detroit's starting rotation.
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
ESPN.com's Jim Bowden writes that Nick Castellanos has the potential to be "an impact bat who should develop into an average defender at third base" (Insider access required).
He's younger, cheaper and superior to Chris Johnson, who the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired in July. However, his third professional season was very uneven.
Castellanos tore apart pitchers at the High-A level to the tune of a .405/.461/.553 stat line (55 games), only to drop to .264/.298/.382 at Double-A.
He's not likely to see everyday duty in the big leagues until 2014.
Drew Smyly, on the other hand, is qualified to start immediately. His impressive strikeout rate could go through the roof against National League lineups.
The Diamondbacks might object to his handedness considering how many other quality southpaws they have in the organization, but ultimately, they wouldn't pass on his special arm.
Tampa Bay Rays: Jeremy Hellickson and Hak-Ju Lee
Jeremy Hellickson won AL Rookie of the Year in 2011 and a Gold Glove last season.
J. Meric/Getty Images
Attendees of this winter's GM meetings feel the Tampa Bay Rays are "open to dealing a starter for badly needed offense" (via Joel Sherman, New York Post).
The Arizona Diamondbacks likely prefer Jeremy Hellickson to James Shields, considering that the former could be retained long term.
The 25-year-old essentially replicated his first full season, though there was significant improvement in his strikeout-to-walk ratio. The American League also recognized his quick reflexes with a Gold Glove.
Hellickson surrendered 25 home runs in only 177 innings pitched. There's concern that conditions at Chase Field could exacerbate his gopheritis.
Hak-Ju Lee is still a very promising shortstop prospect, but it's not yet clear when he'll be ready for MLB. The question is whether his offense can catch up to his fielding ability.
Atlanta Braves: Nick Ahmed and Mike Minor
Mike Minor dominated after the All-Star break (6-4, 2.16 ERA, 0.87 WHIP).
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
The Atlanta Braves tried living without Andrelton Simmons early in 2012 and for much of July and August following a finger injury. The team has gained a greater appreciation for his skills after watching replacements struggle, so he's pretty much untouchable.
Meanwhile, shortstops behind him in the minor league system can now be used as trade bait.
Nick Ahmed flaunted his speed with 40 stolen bases last season in the Carolina League. He maintained his other solid offensive numbers from 2011 despite the increase in difficulty.
As the Arizona Diamondbacks wait for him to develop, the ballclub would not have to do the same for Mike Minor. He already has more than 300 MLB innings under his belt.
While teammate Kris Medlen stole headlines, Minor quietly overwhelmed opponents in the season's second half.
Texas Rangers: Elvis Andrus and Martin Perez
Elvis Andrus strengthens the left side of Arizona's infield.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
All along, the Texas Rangers have been deemed the most suitable trade partner in a Justin Upton deal. That's because the improved Elvis Andrus is experienced and productive, yet reasonably priced ($11.3 million through 2014).
An elite defensive shortstop with excellent range, Andrus also has the on-base skills to bat atop the lineup. He makes up for underwhelming home run totals with respectable power to the gaps.
Martin Perez is another former top prospect. He finally debuted last summer, but success didn't come easy (1-4, 5.45 ERA, 1.63 WHIP).
Texas suspects that he'll reach his potential sooner rather than later. T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com writes that he'll be a candidate to open 2013 in the starting rotation.
In any case, the Diamondbacks could dump salary in moving their high-ceiling right fielder. It's hard to imagine GM Kevin Towers not consenting to an offer that sends premium talent out west to fill the void.