MLB Trade Scenarios: Is Joe Mauer or Justin Upton a Better Target for Yankees?

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst INovember 14, 2012

MLB Trade Scenarios: Is Joe Mauer or Justin Upton a Better Target for Yankees?

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    Before we begin this, in no way am I saying the Yankees are in-line to make a deal with anyone right now.

    This was a topic that was brought up to me, and we are going to discuss it on here.

    So with that out of the way, onto the story.

    The New York Yankees have at least two holes in the field that they need to fill: catcher and right field.

    Nick Swisher is not coming back in 2013, while Russell Martin has drawn the interest of several suitors, one of which is the Yankees themselves.

    Now, if the Yankees wanted to make a big splash this winter, they could make a deal for one of those positions.

    Of the trade scenarios that were brought up to me, two players were mentioned: Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins and Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    Neither player is eligible to be a free agent for a while, so both would require the Yankees to make a major blockbuster to land each player.

    Now, of Mauer and Upton, which player would be the better fit for the Yankees if they were ever to show interest in them?

    Let's examine the pros and cons and make a final judgment.

Pros: Joe Mauer

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    1. He's not the typical slugger that the Yankees usually target. Mauer hits for average, and when healthy, he's one of the best pure hitters in the game.

    2. He would be an upgrade offensively in the lineup at catcher over Russell Martin.

    3. There would be no rush to bring up Gary Sanchez from the minor leagues, and the Yankees can develop him with as much time as needed.

    4. As a left-handed hitter, he could benefit from the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.

    5. He's a brand name and would bring instant credibility to the position.

    6. You can bat him anywhere in the lineup, from No. 2 to No. 6. He would fit in very well.

Cons: Joe Mauer

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    1. His age. He'll be 30 years old by the time the 2013 season begins, and the Yankees need to get younger in some spots.

    2. His contract. He's due another $23 million per season over the next six years.

    3. How many more seasons does he have left at catcher before he needs to be moved?

    4. He's from Minnesota; would he even accept a trade out of his hometown?

    5. Trading for Mauer would cost the Yankees a hefty price—probably at least four top prospects.

Pros: Justin Upton

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    1. His age. He's only 25 years old.

    2. He can hit for power and for average (31 home runs, .289 average in 2011).

    3. Adds the speed element to the lineup, averaging 18 to 20 steals per season.

    4. Has a friendly contract that can be managed: three years, $38.5 million through 2015.

    5. He's an instant upgrade over Nick Swisher, especially at the plate.

Cons: Justin Upton

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    1. He's only known Arizona as home; how would he handle New York?

    2. Trading for him would definitely cost the Yankees a hefty price in a return package—possibly four or five prospects.

    3. He strikes out as much as he gets hits (155 hits to 121 strikeouts in 2012).

    4. Other teams may have better prospects to offer Arizona and GM Kevin Towers.

Final Answer

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    I'm not going to lie; when the Twins put Joe Mauer on waivers this summer, there was a big part of me that wanted the Yankees to claim him, but they didn't.

    I have always been a big fan of Mauer, and I hoped he would come to the Yankees.

    But his price tag as a 30-year-old catcher is just really expensive, which is why I think Justin Upton would be the better trade target.

    The age and contract are probably two of the biggest things that steer me in his direction.

    Plus, I think he could add a ton of upside being a young outfielder playing in right field for many years at Yankee Stadium.

    Of course, a package for Arizona would almost have to start with prospects like Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott, but for a player of Upton's ability, he'd be worth it.

    The Yankees have always been known to make a major trade during the winter. Last year, they traded Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda.

    Could the Yankees look to dealing for Justin Upton this winter?

    Right now, I'd say it's highly unlikely, but with the Yankees, you can never count them out of any type of deal.

    Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.