Thursday, July 12, 2012
Should the Rangers pursue Justin Upton?
By Richard Durrett
As we inch closer to the July 31 trade deadline -- less than three weeks away now -- we'll hear more and more names. One possibility out there is Justin Upton, the 24-year-old outfielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Upton is intriguing because of his contract. He is signed through the 2015 season, meaning a club can get 3 1/2 seasons out of Upton. Buster Olney and Jim Bowden list the Texas Rangers as a possible trade partner for the Diamondbacks here. My concern is the cost of acquiring him may be too high (and I'm not trading Jurickson Profar, which we'll discuss in a moment).
Obviously, the Rangers have the farm system to do it if they decide they want Upton in their outfield for a while to guard against a possible departure of Josh Hamilton in free agency. No, Upton would certainly not "replace" Hamilton. No one can. But he's a right-handed hitter and someone who has put up solid numbers the last few seasons.
Still, the Rangers have Leonys Martin, a player they hope can push for more big league time next season, and what happens when it's time for Jurickson Profar to come to the big leagues? Could that mean a move to the outfield for Ian Kinsler?
All of those are questions the club is probably tossing around as it tires to decide if Upton is a possibility. But it's an interesting option. He's batting .273 with seven homers and 37 RBIs. As of right now, he'd be a nice addition to manager Ron Washington's bench and outfield rotation.
Upton is pretty affordable in the sense that he's making $6.75 million this year, $9.75 million in 2013, $14.25 million in 2014 and $14.5 million in 2015. But it's a long-term commitment, and the club will have other players coming up for free agency in that time period that they'd like to sign.
Bowden lists the Rangers as his No. 3 likely trade partner and says this:
Upton’s value could probably command a return of Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, the Rangers’ top position player prospects. However, the only way I can see the Rangers even thinking of this deal is if they can't re-sign Josh Hamilton and need a middle-of-the-order bat to replace him. Profar is as untouchable as any Rangers farmhand there is and is the game’s best shortstop prospect, but he is currently blocked at the big league level by Elvis Andrus (just as Olt is blocked by Adrian Beltre). If the D-backs do somehow manage this deal, it could set up their left side of the infield for the next eight years. Only then would it make sense.
I can't see the Rangers dealing Profar for Upton. First, I can't see Profar getting dealt, period. He's about as close to untouchable as this organization has right now. But if he were to get dealt, my bet is it would be for pitching before an outfielder.
Still, the Rangers check into everything and I'm sure they'll do their due diligence and see what the price might be on Upton.
Would you like to see Upton in a Rangers uniform? Who are you willing to give up? If you don't give up Profar, what package do you think the Diamondbacks would consider?
You can read more of Bowden's thoughts here (insider).