Justin Upton has long been the source of trade rumors—three years' worth, in fact. A quick perusal of Upton's history on MLB Trade Rumors clearly shows a timeline dating back to the 2010 season.
Now, Curtis Granderson is joining Upton in the latest round of speculation.
On Sunday, Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com offered up a couple of different scenarios—Upton to the New York Yankees and Granderson to the Seattle Mariners.
Morosi points out that the Mariners could well be interested in Granderson—especially if they were given a window of time to negotiate a contract extension. Granderson is in the final year of a contract that pays him $13 million next season.
Under that scenario, the Yankees would presumably receive a better return package rather than simply trading Granderson with no extension at all. In fact, Morosi envisions a package similar to the one offered by the Mariners to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the trade that was vetoed by Upton.
The Mariners were prepared to send prospect shortstop Nick Franklin, relievers Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor and top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker. Seattle was one of the four teams on Upton's no-trade list.
Morosi further opines that if the Yankees and Mariners came to terms on a Granderson deal, they would then have the money available to go after Upton.
Sounds plausible, right?
There's just one problem—the new Yankees aren't the old Yankees.
Owner Hal Steinbrenner has repeatedly stated he wants payroll under the $189 million luxury tax threshold for the 2014 season. He reiterated that stance last week to reporters.
"How many World Series-winning teams the last 10 years had a payroll over 189?" Steinbrenner said. "One. You don't have to have a $200-million payroll to do that. And I'm a big believer in that. But you've got to have a good mix of veterans and young talent . . . If the young players, the [David] Phelps of the world, who did step up, continue to do that and some of the other guys like [Manny] Banuelos, [Michael] Pineda we've yet to see, if they get the job done, the math works."
Steinbrenner also said that he could be flexible, but only if it leads to a championship-caliber team.
So much for those two blockbuster deals.
However, just for argument's sake, let's take a look at these potential deals and see how they would affect the balance of power in Major League Baseball.
First, the Seattle Mariners would receive a potent bat they could immediately plug into the middle of their lineup with the addition of Granderson. A potential Mariners lineup could look something like this:
1 Dustin Ackley 2B
2 Franklin Gutierrez RF
3 Curtis Granderson CF
4 Kendrys Morales 1B
5 Jesus Montero DH
6 John Jaso C
7 Raul Ibanez LF
8 Kyle Seager 3B
9 Brendan Ryan SS
Manager Eric Wedge would certainly have plenty of options as well. Outfielders Jason Bay and Michael Saunders and first baseman Justin Smoak could be plugged in as options, with Ibanez serving as DH and Montero getting starts behind the plate at various times.
General manager Jack Zduriencik could also move Saunders and/or Smoak to beef up his starting rotation or bullpen.
In any event, plugging Granderson into that lineup with the shortened fences at Safeco Field absolutely makes the Mariners a much better offensive team.
If we're following Morosi's above line of thinking in that the Yankees would receive some of the same prospects offered to the Diamondbacks, the Yankees' farm system suddenly becomes one of the best in baseball.
Steinbrenner would receive players under team control for at least the next five seasons. That certainly works towards his goal of managing payroll.
The Yankees can then enter into a deal with the Diamondbacks to acquire Upton. To make that deal more attractive, the Yankees could offer the Diamondbacks at least some of the players they received in exchange for Granderson.
Obviously, the D-Backs originally coveted those players in the original Upton deal.
In Upton, the Yankees get a player over five years younger than Granderson and who could slide over to left field. Brett Gardner would move back to his more-comfortable spot in center field and provide better overall defense.
The Diamondbacks would alleviate the logjam in their outfield with Upton gone. A potential trio would be Jason Kubel in left, Gerardo Parra in center and Cody Ross in right. Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock are both primed and close to ready as well.
They in turn receive prospects that bolsters their roster for the foreseeable future.
In theory, it certainly looks like a winning proposition for all teams concerned.
Everything always looks better in theory, doesn't it?
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.
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