Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Justin Upton won't be dealt in-season
By Jerry Crasnick
It's officially time to put an end to Justin Upton trade talk. For now, at least.
After several weeks of speculation and rumors surrounding the Arizona Diamondbacks' star right fielder, team president Derrick Hall said Tuesday there's "close to a 100 percent chance nothing happens'' with Upton between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
"I would be completely shocked if anything were to happen in-season," Hall told ESPN.com. "You have a better chance of moving a star-caliber player like Justin in the offseason, when teams know exactly where they finished and where they're heading, and they can get more creative.
"We'll field all proposals and conversations. You never know. But I would be surprised if anything happens in the offseason, either."
Upton, 24, has been the subject of an Internet frenzy since reports surfaced before the All-Star break that the Diamondbacks were willing to entertain trade offers for him.
General manager Kevin Towers spoke to reporters before Tuesday night's game against Colorado and explained that it was other clubs asking, not the Diamondbacks offering, that led to all the rumblings about Upton being dealt.
"I think what people need to know, specifically in Justin's case, is I didn't throw his name out there and say, 'Hey, he's available,' " Towers said.
Towers said has not seen any offer for either player that would make the Diamondbacks a better team, and said Arizona still considers itself a winner contending for a playoff spot.
The Toronto Blue Jays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers are among a slew of teams that have been mentioned as potential landing spots for Upton, who reportedly has a clause in his contract that allows him to block trades to the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians.
Arizona officials have maintained from the outset that they're not shopping Upton. Hall and Towers have said they're merely doing their due diligence by listening to trade offers.
"We're in no hurry to move this guy -- nor do we think we need to," Hall said. "Everybody in this organization is open for discussion and conversation, including Justin Upton. If people call, we're going to listen. We've had a lot of people call, and we've said, 'No, thank you' to all of them.' That hasn't changed."
Upton, a two-time All-Star, hit 31 home runs, recorded an .898 OPS and finished fourth in the National League MVP voting last season. But he got off to a slow start this year, prompting Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick to refer to him in early June as an "enigma."
Upton is batting .276 with just eight homers in 323 at-bats, but he's batting .417 (10 for 24) in his past seven games. The Diamondbacks have won four straight and moved within six games of the first-place San Francisco Giants in the NL West. At 48-48, they're only 4½ games out in the NL wild-card race.
Upton, the first overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft, signed a six-year, $51.25 million contract extension with Arizona in 2010. He's scheduled to make a total of $38.5 million in the next three seasons.
Towers also said it was "highly unlikely" the team would move shortstop Stephen Drew. Drew broke his right ankle and tore all the ligaments around it in a slide into home against Milwaukee on July 20 of last year. It was a brutal injury, the foot turning although way around and pointing away from his back before Drew instinctively grabbed and twisted it back in the right direction. Rehabilitating was excruciating and he wasn't able to return to the majors until a month ago.
His return, along with the activation of John McDonald from the disabled list, gives the team three shortstops, with Willie Bloomquist, batting .307 entering Tuesday's game, getting most of the starts. Bloomquist, though, could see more play at third base with Ryan Roberts designated for assignment, then traded on Tuesday.
Some teams see Drew as the odd man out. But so far Towers has said no deal.
"People kick tires; they ask about him. I don't blame them," Towers said. "But I haven't seen anything about trading Stephen Drew that will make us a better ball club."
Although, he added, "If we fall out of this thing, maybe it's different."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.