Well Cub’s fans, the season is essentially over, save for a game vs. the D-Backs today that could not mean anything less, with the exception of watching some young prospects. It has been no secret the last few weeks/months, that many teams have been scouting Tampa Bay’s BJ Upton.
Upton, a second overall pick in the 2002 draft straight out of high school, has just turned 25. But, save for his first full season at the major league level, he has been rather disappointing in terms of performance, especially this year, possibly keeping the Ray’s out of playoff contention. Is it possible for the Cubs to get Upton, and would he even make a good fit on the struggling club?
The first question is, would the Rays ever consider letting Upton go? The answer is pretty unclear for this. He has been extremely injury prone over his entire major league career, playing through it at times, but missing more than half of the 2007 season with injuries. And maybe the biggest reason they would be willing to trade Upton, is because he has been known to have some attitude problems in the clubhouse, and he has also had further problems not hustling out ground balls, or giving 100 percent during all game action.
But, Upton has the talent, and the potential, to be so good that it would be very difficult for the front office to trade him away, with thoughts that he could very well turn out to be the player they had dreamed of when they drafted him second overall.
Then there is the second, and probably more important question: Would Upton make a good fit for the Cubs, and would they ever even consider making a deal for him? The short answer is probably not, and it has more to do with his history as a bad “team player” than it does his actual performance.
In addition, another injury prone player is probably the last thing that a team like the Cubs needs, seeing how things have played out for them the last few years. But, the team does badly need a center fielder who can both hit, and play defense, and Upton has shown great range in the outfield even as a guy whose original position was second base.
Also, with the exception of 2009, Upton has shown great awareness at the plate, with on-base-percentages upwards of .380 in both 2007 and 2008, a number that looks fantastic if you put it next to anything on the Cub’s current roster.
I do not think this deal will happen. It is pretty complex, and the Cubs would need to trade away a lot of talent in exchange for a guy who is certainly not the most reliable in the game. However, I do think that the ball club should explore further into Upton, and see if they can possibly get him without giving all that much up. At this point, it does not look like the team has all that much to lose.