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Rays could emerge as front-runners for Justin Upton

Nov 9, 2012, 7:15 PM EDT

justin upton getty Getty Images

The Rays may have an Upton in their lineup next season after all.

While B.J. Upton declined a one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer earlier today and is expected to land a lucrative multi-year contract in free agency, Ken Rosenthal of hears from rival executives that the Rays might emerge as the front-runners to pull off a trade for his brother, Justin Upton.

This is obviously very preliminary chatter, but it’s thought that the Rays could be the best alternative for the Diamondbacks if the Rangers stand firm in their refusal to give up either Elvis Andrus or top prospect Jurickson Profar. Rosenthal notes that the Rays could offer either James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson, giving Arizona a top-of-the-rotation talent. They could also offer prospect shortstop Hak-Ju Lee as part of a package, though it’s possible the Diamondbacks would have to part with additional talent to make it happen.

For what it’s worth, Rosenthal hears that some teams aren’t yet convinced that the Diamondbacks will move Upton this winter. That skepticism is probably warranted, as Kevin Towers shopped the talented outfielder during his first offseason as GM two years ago and ended up keeping him. But the rumor mill is alive and well.

  1. xpensivewinos - Nov 9, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    So let me get this straight: they finally move on from one underachieving, frustrating guy who hasn’t reached his potential and then the second he’s out the door, they’re going to replace him with his brother, who is being traded because he’s an underachieving, frustrating guy who hasn’t reached his potential????

    By the way…….maybe they have reached their potential.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:31 PM

      BJ Upton was at east a 4 WAR player most years. If that’s under achieving then an underachieving team wins 108 games.

      • bigmeechy74 - Nov 10, 2012 at 2:53 PM

        If you really think BJ Upton lived up to all his promise than you are literally the only person on earth that thinks that. So congrats on being unique at least.

      • buddaley - Nov 11, 2012 at 9:46 AM

        I think you two are talking about 2 different things. It is almost certainly true that Upton has not lived up to expectations. For that he would have had to have at least a 6 WAR.

        On the other hand, there is a difference between not living up to one’s promise and underachieving. Perhaps the expectations-or sense of his promise-were overblown. It is also true that Upton has been a 4.1-5 WAR player in four of the past six years according to FanGraphs. (BB-Ref has been less generous.) That is good. Not great. Not the stuff of a superstar, but still a useful player who achieves enough to be a key member of a contending team. To say he underachieves tells us more about fan expectations than about Upton’s performance.

        Relative to his salary, he has been a bargain for the Rays.

  2. dvh1100 - Nov 9, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    Justin has a better swing than his brother. Plus Maddon knows how to coach these prima donnas up

  3. indaburg - Nov 9, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    There was also chatter here in Tampa Bay that BJ might accept the qualifying offer if it meant he could play with his brother for the year. Apparently, that is a dream the two of them have had since they were kids. The Rays supposedly made it clear to BJ that they couldn’t afford both him and his brother so BJ opted to decline in that case.

    Justin is the better (a lifetime OPS of .832 is pretty darn good) and younger of the two, so if I had to pick one, it would be Justin.

  4. prosourcetalk - Nov 9, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    If they could get Bauer & Upton for Shields then why not?

    • paperlions - Nov 9, 2012 at 9:49 PM

      I can think of one really good reason….the D-Backs just aren’t that stupid. They’d be lucky to get Bauer for Shields…contracts matter for both of these teams.

  5. randygnyc - Nov 9, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Apparently, last year Justin had the Yankees on his no trade list. That has recently changed as reported by Joel Sherman in yesterday’s New York post. He reported that pitchers David phelps and Adam warren could be offered as part of a trade.

    • proudlycanadian - Nov 9, 2012 at 9:20 PM

      Joel Sherman has a sense of humor. I am sure that Arizona got a big laugh from that joke.

  6. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Nov 10, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    I just don’t see a direct Shields for Upton swap. It doesn’t make sense from the Rays perspective, because while he makes 9 mil this year, he makes 14 mil in ’14 and ’15. That’s too expensive by Rays standards, meaning we trade our 2nd best pitcher for a guy that’s basically a rental. I don’t think it’s going to happen unless we either get another prospect back or instead of Shields we could deal a Davis or Niemann instead.

    I realize this is Shields last year here too, but I don’t see us trading a great, proven pitcher for a good hitter and player. Doesn’t feel like a Friedman move, especially with us still having huge holes to fill at 1B, DH, and C. It’s not like Justin Upton is the final piece of the offensive puzzle…far from it

    • dan1111 - Nov 10, 2012 at 5:25 AM

      Upton is under team control for 3 years, while Shields is only signed for two years (including a team option). Which one is more of a “rental”?

      Also, I think you are seriously overvaluing Shields. He only has a 107 ERA+ overall. Only one season out of the last four has been truly great.

      The D-Backs would be getting a 31-year-old, solid-but-not-great pitcher. Upton, on the other hand, is still a couple of years away from his prime. He has been a good to very good player for five years, and many people believe his ceiling is far higher than what he has shown so far.

      I doubt that the D-Backs would even consider a straight up trade of the two, but if they do, the Rays should jump at the chance.

      • leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Nov 10, 2012 at 2:38 PM

        None of this means anything at all, because the Rays aren’t going to be paying a guy 14 mil. Period. I didn’t say this would be a bad trade in general, it would just be bad for the Rays because if they made it they’d have to find a way to deal him after this season. 14 million is simply not in their budget.

  7. papacrick - Nov 10, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    He’s gonna look real nice batting between Austin Jackson and Miggy in the two hole next year. It doesn’t matter how much Brennan Boesch sucks when the first five in your order goes Jackson, Upton, Cabrera, Fielder, Martinez

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