The Detroit Tigers and Justin Upton made their partnership official on Wednesday, as the 28-year-old outfielder officially signed his six-year contract and met with the media for his introductory press conference.
First things first, per MLB GIFs, Upton had to show off what he looked like in his new Tigers threads:
One topic addressed by Upton's agent, Larry Reynolds, was the opt-out clause after 2017, per Matthew B. Mowery of the Oakland Press:
Upton's agent, Larry Reynolds on opt-out: "One of those things I wanted to emphasize (exercising it) is not our intent." (1/2)— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) January 20, 2016
Reynolds on opt-out (2/2): "Justin's been on enough teams. He needs to stay put for a minute."— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) January 20, 2016
Before Upton had an opportunity to discuss his new home, Tigers general manager Al Avila praised team owner Mike Ilitch for pushing the deal, per the Tigers' official media relations department:
Al Avila: We're very excited to have Justin join our family. I want to thank the guy that made this all happen, Mr. Ilitch.— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) January 20, 2016
Avila added that the Tigers had Upton very high on their wish list if they opted to make another move this offseason, per Mowery:
Avila: "Justin was — if we were going to do anything at all — was the No. 1 guy on our list."— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) January 20, 2016
Sticking with Ilitch, Upton also gave praise to the Tigers owner for being aggressive, per the Tigers' official media relations department:
Justin Upton: "I think what sold me mostly is Mr. Ilitch is a guy that wants to win ballgames, wants to win a championship."— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) January 20, 2016
Ilitch, who is 86 years old, has been happy to spend money in hopes of bringing Detroit its first World Series victory since 1984. According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Tigers are spending a franchise-record $184.6 million on talent this season after signing Upton.
Regarding the fact the Tigers are nearing MLB's luxury-tax threshold of $189 million, per Mowery, Avila said it's "a good question for Mr. I(litch). He's comfortable with it, and that's what counts."
Looking at how the money is being spent, Upton made an astute observation about Detroit's hitters, per MLB on Twitter:
“There’s a ton of good hitters in this lineup.” - @JUST_JUP on his new squad.— MLB (@MLB) January 20, 2016
With the addition of Upton, the Tigers are boasting a lineup that features Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez and Victor Martinez. That's an old core, as J.D. Martinez (age 28) and Upton are the only players under the age of 32, but if they play close to their potential, it will be a scary group.
Another aspect of Detroit's lineup that's drawn some criticism lately is the platoon splits against right-handed hitters, something Upton addressed, per the Tigers' official media relations department:
Justin Upton: "If you look at our lineup, I don't think Miguel and Victor have any trouble hitting right handed pitchers."— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) January 20, 2016
Avila also touched on the platoon question around his lineup, making a great point that isn't mentioned much, per Mowery:
Avila: "In an ideal world, that lefty-right combo — yeah. But where's that left-handed OF out there that's Justin Upton?"— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) January 20, 2016
According to FanGraphs' ZiPS projections by Carson Cistulli, the Tigers project to have nine players hit at least 15 home runs and have six hitters with an above-average (100) OPS+.
Upton is at an age where his skills can reasonably be expected to get better. At least, he can be expected to maintain his 25-homer production from the past three seasons and increase his batting average (.251) and on-base percentage (.336) from last year now that he's out of the vast wasteland of San Diego's Petco Park.
The Tigers have no reason to think that Upton will be anything less than a solid hitter in the middle of their lineup. He's been a three-time All-Star and a two-time Silver Slugger winner, so this is a great marriage between a player who wants to win and a team built to win now.