Justin Upton trade rumors
This past spring, I wrote a short piece praising the Arizona Diamondbacks for signing young star outfielder Justin Upton to a 6-year, $51.25 million contract. At the time, Upton was coming off a strong 2009 campaign, where he batted .300 while hitting 26 home runs, driving in 86 runs, and stealing 20 bases in just 138 games.
Upton regressed a bit during the 2010 season, but the 23-year old still had a fine season, batting .273 with 17 home runs, 69 runs batted in, 73 runs scored, and 18 stolen bases. Upton’s numbers dropped in most major statistical categories (Upton’s walk rate rose, which is a good sign, however.), but they weren’t drastic enough to warrant any kind of panic.
When news first broke that the Diamondbacks were willing to discuss dealing Upton, it seemed like nothing but a rumor. Perhaps it was just the Arizona front office, saying those things to let everyone know that no one is safe, warning players to not get too complacent.
But on Wednesday, Jayson Stark confirmed that Arizona GM Kevin Towers is indeed willing to discuss deals that would move the face of the franchise, saying that the Diamondbacks are “genuinely open” to moving Upton.
But why? Why consider trading away a young outfielder who appears to have the kind of tools to build a team around? It makes very little sense, having a young outfielder that is the caliber of Upton, who is signed to a very team-friendly contract.
The chances are slim that Upton is moved, as reports indicate that Arizona is looking for a very large haul of top of the line prospects who can help them both now and in the future, but there is still a chance that the younger of the Upton brothers gets moved.
Adrian Beltre and the Scott Boras hype machine
Agent Scott Boras, who represents Beltre as well as fellow free agent Jayson Werth, has been hyping his client to an unbelievable and ridiculous level. This week, Boras attempted to compare Beltre’s career to that of fellow third basemen Mike Schmidt, George Brett, Paul Molitor, Chipper Jones, and Wade Boggs. Beltre, who had a fantastic year in 2010, and another great year in 2004 (coincidentally, both years were contract years for Beltre) hit just .266 with 21 home runs, 79 RBIs, and just a .759 OPS in between those two big seasons.
Not quite the Hall of Fame numbers that Boras tried to pretend that his client puts up. Beltre is a fine player, but hasn’t shown that he’s anywhere near the caliber of the players that his agent compared him to.
The Cliff Lee Sweepstakes
The most prized free agent of the season, Cliff Lee, has been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball for the last few years, and is finally seeking his big payday. While the New York Yankees are the clear frontrunners to sign Lee, the Rangers are among the other teams in the mix, should Lee decide to stay in Arlington.
Many believe that New York holds the edge, given their ability to spend big, as well as Lee’s friendship with CC Sabathia, who Lee was teammates with in Cleveland. Lee’s wife, however, reportedly soured on New York because of the rude treatment she received from Yankee fans during the ALCS this past year.
Don’t expect Lee to make a decision in the near future, though. As the most prized player on the market, Lee will take his time in coming to a decision.
Jayson Werth and the Phillies
Sources have said that the Philadelphia Phillies and right fielder Jayson Werth are far apart in their contract negotiations, leaving Philadelphia searching for a right field replacement.
With highly-touted prospect lefty Domonic Brown ready to become a starting outfielder in 2011, the Phillies are likely searching for a right-handed bat to possibly platoon with either Brown or Ibanez, or to begin the season as the starting right fielder altogether.
The Phillies are reportedly interested in Chicago’s Carlos Quentin, and have kicked the tires on both Jeff Francoeur and Jermaine Dye, although the latter two would not likely be brought in for starting roles.