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.