Yankees trade deadline targets: Justin Upton

Teams, people, or organizations will negotiate based on the idea that they will come out better. It is a simple fact; if you don’t believe you’ll benefit from a negotiation or trade, you won’t make the deal. The Yankees can benefit in both the short term but more so in the long term if they were to acquire Justin Upton.

Upton, a 24-year-old outfielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks, has been a two time All-Star, a Silver Slugger, and finished fourth in MVP voting in 2011. In short, the kid can play and there’s been trade rumors involving a move.

But what would it take for him to be a Yankee? Is he even worth trading for? Would he be a good fit? Would we have to unload a current contract? Would we have to give up major prospects? Onward!

Let’s get this out of the way; Upton is an upgrade over anything we have in the minors. It’s pretty blatant. His career numbers in the big leagues are great. He was one of the top NL outfielders last year. Do you think anyone in the Yankee farm system, if they were called up next year could perform as well as Upton did in his first four full seasons (mind you he hit 79 HRs and swiped 60 bases)? No and hell no.

See the problem with farm talent is that it’s very difficult to project at the Major League level unless it’s the five tool guys like a Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, or Upton because certain players adapt and improve their skills while others don’t. His career slash line is, and remember he’s only 24, .276/.357/.476. He hit this well in a paltry Diamondback lineup, so moving into a stronger lineup would definitely bode well for him. Upton is definitely a youthful upgrade and has proven his worth.

We’ll use the eyeball test in some comparisons for current players who he would replace if a trade were reached. He is better and offers more than any of the bench guys. He offers more than a 33-year-old Nick Swisher moving forward, especially contractually. So now that we’ve somewhat analyzed his worth, let’s look at whether he’d be a good fit.

A simple answer to the question of whether he’s a good fit is yes but it’s never that simple. It is up to the teams involved to get it done. He has a no-trade clause to the Yankees but he’s since said he’s willing to waive it. He plays the game hard and has a strong desire to win which shows that he’d fit in New York. He doesn’t seem to let “pressure” get to him and honestly that’s what it takes. But what would the Yankees have to give up to sign him?

I don’t know what Kevin Towers and the Diamondbacks would want from the Yankees and I can only speculate. We have great talent in the minors and in my opinion, getting rid of three or so guys for a proven 24-year-old is something you just do. Performance speaks louder than speculation and projections. We have pieces in the system in an abundance of pitching prospects and some talented outfielders like Mason Williams and Tyler Austin to offer.

The issue is what the Diamonbacks want for a guy like Upton and it seems they want Major League ready talent. The other thing that the Yankees would have to give up to acquire Upton would be seen in his contact which is very manageable. He is currently in the midst of a 6-year, $51.25 million deal that expires after the 2015 season. Only $8.54 of it will count against the luxury tax each year which would assist the team in reaching a payroll of $189 million by 2014. In 2013 he’s set to make $9.75, in 2014: $14.25 million, and in 2015, $14.5 million.

The Yankees have a few high level minor league pieces to offer the Diamondbacks and the ability to provide Upton with a chance for a World Series Ring and a payday which seems like a good fit for both parties. There are options, albeit feasible ones, to bring in a premiere player and prepare for the future. This would be a nice shakeup so I’m left wondering what Cashman will do. Either way, July 31st is within reach and Justin Upton could be a Yankee at that point. My fingers are crossed and I hope yours are too.

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15 Responses to Yankees trade deadline targets: Justin Upton

  1. uyf1950 says:

    I'd do it in a heartbeat. Like you said contractually the Yankees benefit from just taking on Upton and Swisher moving on. Although if I'm the Yankees I consider making Swisher a qualifying offer he'd in all likelihood turn it down for a more lucrative multi-year deal with another team and the Yankees get the draft pick. It seems like a win, win.

    • uyf1950 says:

      Just wanted to add. If Swisher didn't turn down the qualifying offer. Then the Yankees sign him and trade him and get player or players in return. He's not a 10/5 player so the only restriction to trading him if the sign him as a FA is they have to hold him for what about 60 days I believe.

  2. walter says:

    Simplistic analysis.
    If this were basketball, by all means go for the single player who can most influence results. But baseball rquires 20 or 25 contributors. And more than ever, those guys will be hard to come by for a team like the Yankees, which has been penalized in the new CBA with prohibitive constraints on finding young talent.
    Giving up four guys who will cost almost nothing for the next three or four years to get one guy that some other team mysteriously wants to unload is highly risky. And Upton's performance this year is simply ordinary. Something may well be going on — something Arizona knows and the Yankees don't.

  3. John Beer says:

    Is Justin worth Tracy Austin, Gary Sanchez and Dave Robertson?

    • Curtis says:

      I think he is. These guys again are what 19-25? Prospects are great but it's like finding a needle in a hay stack. Sure he's worth those guys. Now Robertson, if Mo didn't go down, was at the height of his value. Now we can't true him because we are lacking bullpen depth. But clearly this isn't basketball however you have to get great proven performance when you can. Its obvious to me that you make the move if it costs a guy like Nova/Hughes plus a high prospect. Let's be real, Upton may have something going on that Arizona knows but I'm not passing on a 24 year old that has proven himself.

      It may be a "simple" analysis but the idea holds true. The team is cutting payroll. He allows us a better future option than Swisher (if the brass is set on not resigning him). He is a better option statistically than any fee guys in the minors. I remember a deal similar to this where people were pissed about getting rid of PROSPECT Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy. Hmm that worked out pretty well, no? Just saying IF a deal is done, Upton is very valuable. He's still a top OF in the game.

  4. walter says:

    Not in my opinion.
    I would only give one of these four: Williams, Sanchez, Banuelos, Austin.
    However, I would be willing to give Hughes (not Nova), given his approaching free agency. Those would be the center-pieces.
    Other guys that might have value whom I might include: Adams, Gumbs (reluctantly), Warren, Marshall, Turley. There are other guys I would hold out but no point in getting too specific since Towers hasn't actually called me yet.

  5. Fred says:

    This guy is a proven thing. a young, MVP caliber all around outfielder. He's going to fetch significantly more than Granderson, who we shipped out Kennedy, Jackson and Coke for.

    I'd say two of our best prospects, hypothetically Banuelos and Williams, with the addition of 1 or 2 of the borderline guys that Walter listed like Marshall or Turley. Its a hefty price to pay, but we have pretty good depth in the farm right now, and a complete logjam of pitching prospects at the lower end of the system. And in return you get a guy with the potential to drastically improve the salary situation heading into the 2014 season while providing stellar play. The only players I'd really shy away from including are Nova and Phelps, as young successful major league starters are just too valuable a commodity.

    Its something the Yankees have to seriously consider if Upton is being shopped for a reasonable price. He would contribute massively this year, and would be a much needed piece heading forward into the Jeter/Rodriguez senior citizen years.

    • walter says:

      The logjam of pitching prospects consists of guys five years away. Baqnuelos is the most advanced lefty in the sustem and could help fill a rotation spot next year.
      As to Curtis. comment about propsect being "needles in haystacks" that's exactly the point he's overlooking. Finding Top 50 guys is like finding needles in haystacks. They are the chosen few — and once they are identified among the elite a high percentage do make it . So after the Yankees have sifted through hundreds of ballplayers the last few years, Williams, Sanchez, Banuelos, Austin are the golden needles in the haystack. How foolish to throw those out. I can see giving Williams OR Austin much as we gave Jackson for Granderson. I can see adding to that with perhaps Hughes and some other pretty good talent. But that's more than enough.
      Every great Yankee prospect in the Steinbrenner was almost traded. Many great ones were(Buhner, McGee, Drabek to name a few). But think of what the Yankees would have been the last 20 years without Jeter, Bernie Williams, Rivera, Cano, Posada, Gardner– there were people arguing to swap out all these guys at one time or another. Nothing ever changes, I guess.

  6. Billy Ball says:

    Has anyone really looked at Upton's stats, he had one very good year and that does not make him a budding superstar especially after looking at his stats this year. I know he is young but No team trades away a young cost controlled franchise player without a good reason. I think Cash and the Diamondback GM are close and I don't think Cash would trade the farm for this guy. Earlier I posted this response to the editor of this website.

    "Just wish the fantasy gms would stop imagining trades and gutting the farm when in fact they have no true idea how the Yanks perceive that prospect they are looking trade. Many on this site are willing to trade our best left handed pitching prospect in banuelos, our best outfielder prospect in mason Williams, our best pure hitter whom happens play elite position in Gary Sanchez, and our only real ss replacement at this time in Eduardo Nunez whom despite his value decreasing if you left him at ss he can possibly give you 30-45 sb with 240 avg and 10 hr a yr while flashing plus arm. Now why would you trade all that plus a David phelps whom has talent to be back end starter today for a guy in Justin upton who quite honestly puts up nick swisher stats at best with more sb which is around 15 to 20 sb a year? Don’t you understand it is easier to replace corner outfield production than any other spot on team? Wake up and stop playing gm and trust the cash with the moves that make sense now and for the future. Also consider why would Arizona look to trade a 24 yo talent such as uptons? Injury concerns? Attitude concerns?"

    We really need to look at Upton's Stats year by year and than discuss how he is head and toes above the majority of corner outfielders in the league? The article states he has five tools but he averages 15 stolen bases a year which is not all wordily. His defense is avg at best and some say below avg. He has power but you have too wonder if the shoulder is a real concern and will continue to be a concern and you need look no further than this years numbers. I would not sacrifice our farm or even two top prospects and Philip Hughes for this player. Corner outfielders are the easiest position to fill so more research needs to be done before giving up the farm, this is why we are not the GM!

    • Curtis says:

      Agreed we aren't. This was one mans take on how he perceives a trade target in Justin Upton, nothing else. And sure we wouldn't have had any of those guys, but was Cano a top prospect? No. He wasn't trade worthy and that's my point. You have no idea how these guys will play in 5 years. The same could be said for Upton, who last I checked 20 SB qualifies you as a 5 tool guy. Maybe he's not the elusive 30/30 guy but his injured hand is what I worry about. But yes, we don't know how Upton will play in 5 years either but off his past 5 years, I have more faith in a guy who's hit pretty well against MLB pitching and not triple A.

      This piece wasn't written to suggest who we could or could not give up, as I specified in the article. Its not about speculation just simply I dont know what we'd get but giving a couple major league ready guys and a guy 5 years away isn't such a bad idea. We have our opinions; I'm not saying any are right or wrong just presenting options as to what I believe is a good idea. Most of you don't feel the same way, that's fine too.

      For the record, I supported and still support the Pineda deal.

  7. Robby Evans says:

    Upton's no trade clause in his contract keeps him from going to big market teams, like the yankees. Not happening.

    • Fred says:

      "He has a no-trade clause to the Yankees but he’s since said he’s willing to waive it."
      Upton's NTC is a list of 4 of the biggest teams in the game, on there only for leverage in a trade situation

  8. Mike Sommer says:

    I'd just like to remind people that a lot of the parks that Upton plays in frequently (Arizona, SD, Dodger Stadium, Pac Bell in his own division) are not known as hitter's ballparks. Coming to the AL East, and playing in hitter's ballparks like Camden Yards, Fenway, the Rogers Centre… may help him.

  9. Gonzalo says:

    Would you trade Banuelos, Williams, Phelps and Mustellier for Upton?