Melvin Upton Jr., Indians Reportedly Agree to Minor League Contract

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2017

CLEARWATER, FL - MARCH 09:  Melvin Upton Jr. #7 of the Toronto Blue Jays in action against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field on March 9, 2017 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Melvin Upton Jr. will reportedly seek redemption with the Cleveland Indians as he attempts to rebound from an injury-riddled 2017 season. 

According to the Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, Upton and the Indians agreed to terms Friday on a minor league contract. 

FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman reported Upton Jr. will earn $1.5 million if he makes the club. 

Upton Jr. last hit the professional diamond in 2016 when he suited up for the San Diego Padres and Toronto Blue Jays, and it became clear during the split campaign that he didn't have much gas left in the tank. 

Over the course of 492 at-bats, Upton slashed .238/.291/.402 with 20 home runs and 61 RBI.

Those raw power numbers were a silver lining of sorts, but the fact that they were accompanied by 155 strikeouts compared to just 37 walks dampened optimism that he could continue to log time as an everyday outfielder. 

Come 2017, the 33-year-old simply couldn't stay healthy as thumb surgery and shoulder irritation kept him out of the majors entirely. And while Upton Jr. latched on with the San Francisco Giants on a minor league contract, he opted out of the deal in August amid injury woes. 

If there's hope for Upton and the Indians now, it's that in addition to his pop at the plate, he can still be a plus on the basepaths and in the field. To that point, Upton finished 2016 with 27 steals and 10 defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs

Expectations should understandably be tempered given Upton's recent history of disappointment. But at the price the Indians nabbed him at, Upton is a low-risk, high-upside flier who could have the ability to pay dividends in select situations off the bench in 2018. 

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