Upton Should Be a Target
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Arizona Diamondbacks are actively trying to trade Justin Upton again. With Nick Swisher all but gone, Upton would be an ideal acquisition to replace him. Upton is young (25), has a reasonable contract and has worlds of potential. However, the Yankees chances of landing him don’t appear to be good.
According to reports, the D’Backs want a major league ready shortstop and starting pitcher. Are Eduardo Nunez and Ivan Nova or David Phelps satisfactory for them? I doubt it. Phil Hughes would be a good fit for them, but he is a free agent so Arizona would not want him to have to pay him. Arizona GM Kevin Towers used to be in the Yankees organization and is rumored to love Mason Williams. Could Arizona do better for Upton than getting Nova, Nunez, and Williams? I would guess yes, so the Yankees would have to probably give more than that.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that the Yankees are not in on Upton because he would cost too much towards their 2014 $189 million cap. I do not buy this at all and it doesn’t make much sense. Upton is a bargain, as he is only making $38.5 million over the next three years. Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano, Mariano Rivera, Curtis Granderson, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte are all likely to come off their books in the next two offseasons. I’m no mathematician, but if they really wanted to they could find room for Upton. If Sherman is correct, there is a problem because it appears the Steinbrenners would no longer be willing to put the best team on the field no matter what.
Despite his postseason struggles Nick Swisher will not be easily replaced. A platoon of maybe Raul Ibanez and another player isn’t going to get the job done. Swisher consistently hit for about 25 home runs and 90 RBI and had the second best OPS on the team last year. He will be missed if he is not replaced properly.
Upton had a down year last season. He hit .280, with 17 home runs, 67 RBI, an .785 OPS and an .341 w/OBA. Upton is a much better player than that and will improve. He proved that in 2010 when he finished 4th in the NL MVP voting and hit .289, with 31 home runs, 88 RBI, an .898 OPS and an .385 w/OBA. Upton also offers good speed, as he has stolen at least 18 bases in every season of his career. He has yet to really reach his peek, as he should start to do, as he is entering the real prime of his career.
The Yankees really need to add to their offense and they need to do it without spending big money, while getting younger as well. Upton is really the only player out there that fits all of these qualifications. Obviously the issue is that you have to give up prospects for him. However, the Yankees should be getting two extra first-round picks this year if Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano sign elsewhere, and it could even be three if Hiroki Kuroda leaves. So if the Yankees were to trade some of their prospects they would be in a good position to restock their system in this year’s draft.
There was a lot of talk that there would be a lot of change this offseason, but so far it is sounding like retooling this team will be more of a two year process. Of course, it is still way too early in the offseason to see if that is the case. Trading for Upton would be a big splash and a sign that the Yankees are really serious about improving their team. They already missed the boat on trading for Chase Headley and it could happen again. If they do not even get involved in the talks for Upton that would really be disappointing.