Justin Upton, apparently, will not be traded from Arizona to Seattle … but not because the Diamondbacks and Mariners didn’t work out a deal. It seems that Upton exercised his no-trade clause, and, as a result, there is, well, no trade.
There remains some discussion as to whether Upton exercised the clause because he is against Seattle, or whether he is trying to exercise leverage as to where he ends up. But, even though the trade appears to be dead, the actual deal (that is, the offer and acceptance by everyone except Upton) appears to be real.
So we can go ahead and analyze the “non-trade” as if it were real.
Obviously, a big part of your view of the “non-trade trade” depends on your view of Upton. Is he a young star ready to bust into the upper levels of the profession, or a guy with too many issues that his club is already trying to dump?
This much we know: Upton has boatloads of talent. He used that talent to waltz into AA at age 19 and slap down a .556 SLG. “Regular guys” don’t do such a thing.
Then he’s been in the majors since age 20, and collected at least 15 HR and at least 50 walks every year (even his two “down” seasons). And he’s still only 25 … an age when some guys are still in AA.
He’s signed for three more seasons at a reasonable rate for All-Star-caliber hitters.
Do you give up a chunk of your farm for that? Yeah, you do. Especially in Seattle’s case, because (1) even the “down” version of Upton is much better than the Mariners’ immediate outfield options (sorry, Casper Wells and/or Eric Thames); and (2) the guys the Mariners were going to give up come from positions of strength in the system.
It is a testament to the Mariners’ rebuilt farm that GM Jack Zduriencik could spare four top guys and still have plenty of depth. Consider:
- RHP Taijuan Walker. At age 20, Walker has huge upside, but he showed this year at AA that he’s not going to barge through the MLB door instantaneously, and Seattle is also very high on fellow righties Erasmo Ramirez and Brandon Maurer, both of whom moved to the fringe of the Mariners’ “Big Three” (Walker, James Paxton, Danny Hultzen).
- SS/2b Nick Franklin. The 21-year-old Franklin has shown the ability to compete above his age-level, and has shown a sweet swing with big-time power from the left side. But his performance against LHP as a RH hitter has drug him down, and let 2011 second-round pick Brad Miller catch him on the depth chart.
- LHP Charlie Furbush. The lefty caught fire when given a full-time pen job in 2012 (10.3 K/9), but Seattle has two other LH relief specialists, plus another pair in AAA.
- RHP Stephen Pryor. Hard-throwing Pryor is set to be a late-inning guy, but Seattle is already set with Tom Wilhelmsen as closer, and Pryor overlaps with fellow fireballer Carter Capps.
Depth notwithstanding, that is a lot to give up. Arizona drove a hard bargain, even though it ended up just being a hypothetical one. [I should note that there are some reports that Seattle would have received another player in addition to Upton, which would obviously change the calculus somewhat.]