Multiple sources are reporting that the Arizona Diamondbacks are willing to trade right fielder Justin Upton for the right price. The best free agent outfielders are Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford, and an Upton trade would seriously affect where they may end up.
The 23-year-old outfielder was the first pick of the 2005 amateur draft.
His best season came in 2009, where he had a .300 BA, hit 26 home runs, 86 RBI, and recorded 20 stolen bases.
Reportedly, the Diamondbacks' GM Kevin Towers would have to be blown away by a deal in order to trade Upton.
The Cardinals would be able to offer center fielder Colby Rasmus in a deal with Arizona. Boston may be willing to trade one of their first base prospects in addition to right-hander Casey Kelly. The Yankees have some pitching prospects that could get Arizona's attention as well.
How much of a better deal is Justin Upton compared to Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford?
What is the better option?
Maybe the biggest advantage that a trade for Upton compared to a free agent signing for one these teams is the price and length of his contract.
He just signed a six-year contract last March, which is relatively cheap in the beginning years. Upton is only due $4.25 million next season, but his salary increases towards the end of the contract.
One other important aspect is that he is only 23. Carl Crawford is 29 years old, while Jayson Werth is already 32-years-old. Both of these free agents will be looking for a contract for three or more years, as their play will likely diminish as they get older.
However, Werth typically delivers more power than Upton. Over the last three seasons, he has averaged 27 home runs, which includes a season of 36 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
When comparing each of these outfielders, they are pretty much dead even. However, Upton's age makes him the much better catch.
It comes down to whether a team would rather pay a lot of money over the next few years, or part with their best young talent.
How interested are the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in Justin Upton?
There have been some reports that both teams have already talked to Arizona about trading for Upton. However, the talks have not been that substantial.
The Yankees may just wait and see if they can sign Cliff Lee. If not, it would make sense for New York to concentrate on either signing Werth or Crawford, or maybe trading for Upton.
My opinion is that even if the Yankees do sign Lee, management should still pursue an Upton trade instead of signing a free agent outfielder.
Boston may negotiate with the two best offensive free agents and see how much a deal would cost. They could then weigh the amount of money that would be spent in a free agent signing against a possible trade with the Diamondbacks.
A trade for Justin Upton looks a lot more appealing to me than signing Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford.
In fact if a team does trade for Upton, it would seriously increase the Philadelphia Phillies' chances of resigning Werth.