As baseball's offseason heats up, one of the more intriguing names on the market is former No. 1 overall pick and current Arizona Diamondback outfielder, Justin Upton.
Numerous teams are interested in the very young and talented outfielder and, as usual, one of the teams to make an inquiry is the New York Yankees. Although the Yankees do not have Upton at the top of their wish list, he could certainly become an option.
For the right price, this could be a great move for the Yankees in both the short term and the long term. Here are the top 10 reasons the Yankees should make this deal.
Unlike some previous trades and free agent signings, an acquisition of Upton would not be an enormous financial liability, and he has a favorable contract.
Not only is Upton locked up until 2016, but he would just make $4.25 million this season. In addition, Upton's contract would not exceed $10 Million until 2014.
This would give the Yankees a young, affordable, and effective outfielder as a lineup staple for years.
Although this is not a strategy that any baseball front office would boast about enforcing, it is certainly in the back of the minds of teams when considering deals.
The Yankees do not want to see a team like the Red Sox, Rangers, or Angels acquire Upton when they had just as good of a chance to get him.
I don't think this is at the top of their reasons, but no general manager wants to be effected in the standings by a player they could have had.
Although Cliff Lee is the Yankees No.1 target this off-season, they must realize there is at least a 50/50 chance that Lee opts to return to the AL Champion Rangers.
The Yanks will likely make the biggest offer to Lee, but he could decide to stay closer to home, with a team that has a young and talented nucleus. If this is the case, the Yankees will need to make another big splash in the off-season to downplay that disappointment.
Acquiring Upton, at the right price, would be a, smart, high profile move that the Yankees will need to sting the loss of whiffing on Lee.
If the Yankees fail to land Cliff Lee, conventional wisdom is that the Yankees would then go after Carl Crawford, believed to be the next high profile target.
However this could be a mistake, as Crawford will require a huge contract, probably in the $15-20 million range. In addition, Crawford is 29 years old, while Upton is just 23.
Upton would require a cheaper contract and could be just as effective overall. Don't be surprised if Crawford's production declines in the next few years; he is a player that relies heavily on his legs.
Overall I think Upton may be the more savvy move than Crawford.
The main cost of an Upton deal would of course be the prospects the Yankees would have to give up to acquire him.
Rumors are that the Diamondbacks would require 4 players in exchange for Upton, while this price seems steep the Yankees may have the ability to do so. The first three pieces in a deal could center around Joba Chamberlain, an outfielder from the Gardner/Swish/Granderson trio, and a mid-level prospect.
None of those parts would be irreplaceable, but the crown jewel of a trade may have to be top prospect Jesus Montero. This may be the sticking point between a deal getting done or not.
If the Yankees do decide to pull the trigger and part with Montero, don't fear Yankee fans; the Yankees have another highly touted catching prospect in Austin Romine right behind him. This kind of depth allows the Yankees to pull off a big deal if need be.
The Yankees outfield D has been slowly improving over the years and bringing in a 5-tool player, like Upton, would certainly help.
Upton's blazing speed makes him effective at any outfield position. Although Swisher is the outfielder I would least like to see go, a Gardner-Granderson-Upton outfield has me drooling.
That would be an outfield with unlimited range from foul line to foul line and turn the Yankees outfield defense into a strength.
Upton has had some maturity problems in his young career and these recent trade requests could certainly count in that category.
The core of these issues is a desire to win, something that has become pretty difficult in Arizona. In New York, Upton could learn to win behind the fantastic veteran leadership the Yankees have.
Upton should respond well to this and my guess is that we will see him mature by leaps and bounds in no time.
In Arizona, Upton is one of the big stars who hits in the middle of the order and often gets special treatment from opposing pitchers.
In New York, Upton becomes just another powerful bat that pitchers are forced to maneuver through in the galaxy of stars that is the Yankees lineup. This would mean more fastballs, which would probably lead to more home runs and just better overall production.
Because of this, the Yankees could see themselves trading for an even better version of Justin Upton than we see today.
Although Upton has only stole 18 and 20 bases in the last two seasons, his capability is certainly much higher than that.
In a Yankees lineup that would require him to be less of a run producer, the opportunity to steal would expand. This is just the kind of threat the Yankees need, as the more speedsters they have to set the table, the more RBI opportunities they will have for power hitters Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano.
The Yankees are an old team: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada. All veterans in their late thirties to early forties.
In addition, these guys are all still key cogs within the team. The Yankees need to get younger and sometimes prospects don't pan out. So given Upton's youth and upside, this could be an outstanding opportunity to add a cornerstone of the team.
Upton could potentially have a long and successful career in New York with Robinson Cano, Phil Hughes, and Jesus Montero, and usher in a new era of success in the Bronx. If the opportunity arises, the Yanks should pull the trigger on this deal.