Justin Upton Rumors: Teams Reportedly May Turn Attention Away from D-Backs Star

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Justin Upton #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on September 27, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Arizona Diamondbacks may have missed their window of opportunity to maximize the trade value for right fielder Justin Upton

According to Buster Olney of ESPN, teams with interest in Upton may very well wait to see what happens with other stars who are approaching arbitration and/or free agency in the not-too-distant future. 

Some MLB folks say this:As J.Upton situation plays out, TEX/other teams may prefer to hold back prospects for eventual Stanton/Price bidding

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 16, 2013

For the Diamondbacks, this rumor has to be very disconcerting. Upton is a huge name on the trade market because of his age (25), contract status (signed through 2015) and upside. 

Despite playing in the big leagues since 2007, Upton hasn't yet reached the age where most hitters are at their peak (usually between the ages of 26-31). He has had his share of ups and downs, as young players are wont to do.

The last four seasons have seen Upton alternate between being one of the best corner outfielders in the game and an average to slightly above-average player. In 2009 and 2011, his on-base percentage was over .360 and he slugged better than .500. 

But 2010 and 2012 saw Upton's power numbers suffer. He slugged .442 in 2010 with just 17 home runs in 133 games. Last season was his worst as far as power numbers, as he slugged just .430 with 17 home runs and 45 extra-base hits. 

The two players Olney specifically mentions, Tampa Bay's David Price and Miami's Giancarlo Stanton, are more talented and more consistent in their performance on the field than Upton. 

However, the difference between the three players is that Upton is available in a trade right now. In fact there were reports that the Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners agreed to a deal that would send Upton to the Emerald City, but he used his limited no-trade clause to veto it. 

The Marlins could trade anyone at any moment, including Stanton, but they do sound firm when they say that he isn't going anywhere. That could change when he becomes eligible for arbitration in 2014, though that doesn't do much for teams that need help now. 

Price avoided arbitration with the Rays by signing a one-year, $10 million contract. Considering that the Rays are World Series contenders right now, and he can't become a free agent until after the 2015 season, he isn't going anywhere for at least two years. 

Upton's window to be traded for a premier package of players could be closing right before the Diamondbacks' eyes. Of course, he is still young enough and is just one year removed from being an MVP candidate, so he could turn everything around in 2013. 

If Upton does that, the Diamondbacks would be more than happy to keep him and hope he can carry that offense on his back.