Detroit Tigers rumors: Justin Upton trade in play?

This past July, I wrote about the Detroit Tigers and the potential that they might trade for Justin Upton prior to the deadline. Click here to read that story again. Instead, the Tigers grabbed Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to fill out their pre-August wish list. But back to Upton, other than the month on the calendar, little has changed.

Perhaps most notable from that piece back in July was this nugget:

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.

Justin Upton, Detroit Tigers

Could Justin Upton be taking his hacks in Detroit next summer?

Upton fought an AC joint injury in his shoulder and was simply unable to put up an elite season in 2012. And that is now his burden. He is expected to be elite year in and year out.

After struggling for much of the season’s first 4 months, Upton hit .290 in August and .301 in September, swatting 9 of his 17 total homers during that 2-month stretch. Overall, Upton finished the season at .280 with 17 homers, 67 RBI’s, 18 steals, and a .355 on-base %. Despite his strong finish, the Arizona Diamondbacks seem intent on listening to Upton-related trade offers this winter.

His season-ending stats certainly aren’t numbers to shake a stick at, but also not of the MVP-caliber type that has come to be expected of the 25-year old outfielder.

Contractually, Upton is signed through 2015 at a reasonable fare. His next 3 years line up like this:

  • 2013: $9,958,000
  • 2014: $14,458,000
  • 2015: $14,708,000

In other words, for about the same cost that the Tigers were willing to pay Jose Valverde in 2012, they could have Upton in 2013.

If Upton did indeed come to Detroit (and Detroit has been doing their research on him this offseason), the Tigers do have some pieces that are moveable. And after recently trading Chris Young away from their outfield, the D-backs could use some of the help the Tigers have available.

Most notable among the available names would be Brennan Boesch, Andy Dirks, and Quintin Berry. Upton is an everyday player. So is Austin Jackson. That doesn’t leave room for a load of outfielders on the roster, especially with Avisail Garcia and Nick Castellanos (both slated to play corner outfield) pounding on the Major League door.

If Detroit does happen to retain Anibal Sanchez’s services, then they would most certainly have a starting pitching piece to move as well. Adding a Rick Porcello or Drew Smyly to the deal along with a big league-ready outfielder might be enough, along with some other ancillary pieces, to get a deal done. Heck, Garcia and Castellanos themselves may be considered in a trade of this magnitude.

From a Tigers perspective, an ideal outfield in 2013 might look like Dirks-Jackson-Upton from left to right. Upton is a middle of the order thumper who can also swipe 20 bags over the course of a season.

If Detroit was able to package up Boesch and Smyly or Porcello, then a 2013 opening day lineup might look something like this:

  1. Jackson – CF
  2. Dirks – LF
  3. Cabrera – 3B
  4. Fielder – 1B
  5. Martinez – DH
  6. Upton – RF
  7. Peralta – SS
  8. Avila – C
  9. Infante 2B

That is the kind of lineup that would finish in the top 5 of most major offensive categories. Watch this situation closely. Grabbing a 25-year old riser like Upton, without breaking the bank, seems to fit right into GM Dave Dombrowski’s wheelhouse.

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  • http://twitter.com/isportsChad Chad Godfrey

    NOW you’re talking..but the problem that harassed the Tigers this year (the bottom of the batting order) still has Jhonny Peralta and the oldest 25-year old catcher in the bigs Alex Avila….but it’s a little easier to deal with with Martinez and Upton added….I would love that move…who wouldn’t?

  • http://twitter.com/isportsJoe Joe White

    Honestly I’d consider moving Avisail Garcia and Porcello or Smyly in that deal. Upton is a proven commodity who still has a ton of career in front of him. If AZ would somehow take Boesch, one of those 2 pitchers, and some other non-elite (Garcia/Castellanos) pieces then I think it’s a no-brainer. The bummer is AZ wants a shortstop and we don’t have one worth giving.

    Regarding Avila, I think he bounces back a bit next year but 2011 was likely his career year. Peralta had his worst batting average season since his rookie year last year. He’s still only 30. I like him to be a hair better next year as well. And I’m guessing we’ll disagree all offseason on both of those points!

  • http://twitter.com/isportsJoe Joe White

    My fear is that AZ asks for both Garcia and Castellanos, which the Tigers simply won’t do.

  • bobwhite

    Like the possibilities, good stuff Joe.

  • Byron

    Arizona will get much, much, much more than a #4 starter and an extra outfielder for Upton. They’d laugh at this trade.

  • http://twitter.com/isportsJoe Joe White

    They wouldn’t be laughing if Detroit included Castellanos or Garcia, as I wrote that they might. Detroit might laugh if they ask for too much.

  • Rick Coxon

    I have heard Smyly, Garcia and Castellanos mentioned in a trade for Upton, which in my opinionis WAY too much. I would rather boesch be gone than castellanos.

  • Jeff

    Upton would look good in right,would upgrade that spot in a hurry..defense -speed-power….if fhey sign Sanchez …would give em boesch,smyly and porcello.for upton and there top second base or ss prospect..or a closer….