Arizona Diamondback: 4 Reasons They Should Hold onto Justin Upton This Offseason
Upton, the No. 1 selection in the 2005 First Year Player Draft, is a good five-tool baseball player and considered to be the face of the Diamondbacks franchise.
Now as the offseason hits full stride, the Diamondbacks are looking to get Upton's contract off their books. The Diamondbacks owe Upton over $9 million next year and over $14 million in each of his final two years of a six-year deal which will end after the 2015 season.
That kind of money is sure to deter any team looking to trade for Upton unless some concessions are made by the Diamondbacks.
Here are the four reasons why the Diamondbacks should hold onto Justin Upton this offseason:
There Is Still Potential for Justin Upton
The 2012 season saw Justin Upton's production numbers drop off a bit.
Not anything earth shattering, but Upton's development in 2011 was lost on a 2012 campaign that saw him take a step back.
In 2011, Upton had a .289 batting average, 31 home runs, 88 RBI and a .369 on-base percentage. Compare that to 2012: .280 batting average, 17 home runs, 67 RBI and a .355 on-base percentage.
Last year he finished second in the National League in runs scored with 107, right behind Ryan Braun. The team also has to remember that Upton suffered through a thumb injury for a majority of the season.
Obviously he hasen't fallen from grace, but improvement is needed to warrant the kind of contract he received.
The Diamondbacks want production, but it may be a counter to Upton's potential if he is placed on the trading block. A player's mentality for their team may turn negative upon hearing that the organization wants to get rid of them. It may also negatively affect the player's performance on the field, which will ultimately lead to fans criticizing Upton.
The potential is there for the 25-year-old, it just will take an organization willing to back their star player 100 percent on and off the field.
He Has Proven That He Can Play Ball
Along with potential, Upton has a proven track record of being a successful major league player.
In 2009, Upton's third year in the majors, he had a .300 batting average and 26 home runs. Not bad for a 21-year-old player still adjusting to life in the big leagues.
Every year up to his 2012 campaign showed signs that Upton was improving in key areas and adjusting to the MLB. A lackluster 2012 has worried top brass in the organization and fans alike, but is it really time to trade him?
The guy can play; that is a given and must be taken into account if a potential trade pops up for the Diamondbacks.
The only question is can he sustain the level of play that everybody is expecting from him?
Obviously, the Diamondbacks believe he has hit his cap, the limit to his ability as evidenced by his so-so season.
Give him more of a chance.
Let trade talk subside and the pressure could melt off his back and show in his production numbers.
Not Enough for a Trade Just Yet
The Diamondbacks have made it clear that they want to trade Upton for a significant package of players that could include a starting pitcher.
The price is steep, and many MLB teams have decided to look elsewhere for a power hitter and solid outfielder.
Diamondbacks GM, Kevin Towers, has said that the price will be high for Upton (via MLB.com):
Our sights are set pretty high on what it would take, and if nobody meets what we're looking for—and we'd like to address a couple of different areas—if nobody meets it, then we stay status quo and keep him. We're a good team with him.
Considering that Upton's price will be high and that he still has a large amount of money owed to him on his current contract, teams may just pass on by this offseason.
If Upton continues to decline in production next season, the Diamondbacks may lower their asking price and even consider eating some of his contract.
Towers though, believes that the value of Upton will increase once the free-agent market starts to decrease (via MLB.com):
Early in the process, they sit out there and try to get the bargain deal. And all of a sudden a couple of free agents come off the board and there's more of a need for that player than maybe they're willing to step up what they're willing to give up to acquire the player. I continue to talk to teams and clubs express interest, but it's very early in the process.
If All Else Fails, 1 More Year May Be Very Beneficial
If it comes down to it, if the Diamondbacks are really determined to send Upton elsewhere, then he should be back next season in Arizona.
As of right now, the Diamondbacks don't have a serious offer on the table for Justin Upton. This is mainly due to his large contract and the big asking price for him in a trade.
While the potential and ability are there for the right fielder, it's just not enough to warrant a lot of serious chatter from big league clubs. If the Diamondbacks want to get the highest possible price for Upton, then they need him to perform well in the 2013 season.
His trade value could go up if Upton exhibits signs of improvement. The Diamondbacks organization will also have to keep quiet on their willingness to trade Upton and let him play without the threat of a trade hanging over his head.
If all goes well and the Diamondbacks still want to trade him midseason, then a potential 2013 blockbuster will be in the works.
Follow James Maahs on Twitter for all the latest news in the MLB and NHL.