The Arizona Diamondbacks have made it clear in recent days that they will entertain trade offers for their star right fielder Justin Upton. Is it possible that he’d be a fit with the Detroit Tigers and could they put together a strong enough package to make it happen?
First, we must look at the D-backs’ outfield situation. If Upton were to be sent packing it would leave just 3 outfielders on the regular roster: Jason Kubel in left, Chris Young in center, and the electrifying Gerardo Parra in right.
Perhaps no bench player in all of baseball deserves a better fate than Parra. He is one of the elite outfield defenders in the game and does a little bit of everything offensively – definitely a Kirk Gibson kind of a guy. Kubel has been very solid in his first year of National League play.
The idea of trading Upton would be a lot easier if Chris Young could fire up his offense. Since coming back from an AC joint injury in his shoulder he has been a shadow of his true ability.
With limited depth in the outfield it would seem likely that Arizona would not only require some top-tier prospects in a deal for Upton but also a Major League-ready outfielder.
Now to the Tigers. It’s no secret to anyone that they would love to ship Delmon Young and his absurd mustache to a city far, far away. Despite him probably being more useful in an American League lineup with a DH slot available he could be a throw-in piece.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers decide to float Brennan Boesch’s name out there too. He could jump right into Upton’s former spot in the desert and perhaps the change of scenery and new voices would do him some good. He is still immensely talented.
And at risk of being run off of isportsweb as a writer (don’t worry, I co-founded it, I’m safe) Quintin Berry might also make for an intriguing deadline deal piece. Can he really get any better? Will his value ever be higher than it is right now? Sell high-buy low. Words to live by for all GM’s. For a recent example look no further than Kevin Youkilis magically coming to life after being traded to the White Sox. Chicago bought low and is reaping the reward.
All this is to say that the Tigers do indeed have some moveable parts that are at least Major League ready.
Detroit is on record as wanting to add a power-hitting, right-handed bat to their outfield mix. Upton fits the bill. He is in his 6th season yet remains just 24 years old until late August. He had a career season in 2011 during the playoff run put together by Gibby’s snakes.
During ’11 Upton hit .289 with 31 homers, 39 doubles, 88 RBI’s, and 21 steals. So far in 2012 his numbers are depressed (.267, 7 HR, 10 doubles, 36 RBI’s) and he doesn’t seem to be jiving with the powers that be in AZ.
Contractually, the Tigers could reasonably afford Upton. The D-backs locked him up long-term at a young age and a decent price. He is making a shade under $7M this year and is signed through 2015. Next year he gets a bump to just under $10M and then he tops out in the mid $14M’s for the final 2 years of his deal. So he is basically getting Delmon Young money right now and close to it next year and then Victor Martinez money during his final 2 years. VMart would be off the books after 2014 so there would be a one year overlap to work through there but it still seems doable from a financial perspective.
In other words, the Tigers can afford this guy. But can they put a package together that works for Arizona? I don’t see why not.
The Tigers could offer a few major leaguers in the deal as well as some prospects. Arizona is fairly loaded in the pitching department throughout their organization and might like to see more position players in a potential trade.
Would a package of say Brennan Boesch (or less likely Delmon Young), one of the system’s top rated catchers (Rob Brantly or James McCann), one of Casey Crosby or Andy Oliver (or both!), and perhaps an Avisail Garcia (highly rated prospect just promoted to AA Erie) be enough? It can’t be that far off.
Imagine for a moment an outfield of a healthy Andy Dirks in left, Austin Jackson in center, Upton in right and Berry coming off the bench. Assuming Delmon gets moved in this or another deal, and even if he didn’t, Upton could immediately slot into the #5 hole behind Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Now we’re talking.
A top 5 batting order of Jackson, Dirks, Cabrera, Fielder, and Upton sounds utterly scintillating. Throw in Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta, whoever they add at 2nd base, and a DH (eventually Victor Martinez) and this team would be in business from an offensive standpoint.
These scenarios are being played out in the offices of Comerica Park. Viability will depend on how steep Arizona’s asking price is but to be able to add a player of this caliber and not giving up top prospect Nick Castellanos would be a dream deal.