Upton Update: The Diamondbacks Sending A Message

The Diamondbacks are listening to offers for young star Justin Upton.

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Justin Upton Trade Rumor Update: Interest Soars, Allegedly

The Arizona Diamondbacks have openly acknowledged that they are listening to trade offers for their young star with superstar potential, Justin Upton. They've hung the For Sale sign around his neck and the buyers seem to be streaming in. Kicking the tires, opening the closets, flushing the toilets -- whatever buyer/seller analogy fits your mood, that's what general managers from MLB teams all over the league are reportedly doing right now at the Winter Meetings in Orlando.

The web site MLB Trade Rumors reports that the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, Florida Marlins, Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox are all showing "strong interest" in Upton. The New York media (as they are prone to do) takes it even further in a New York Post story claiming interest by 15 or 16 teams that don't include the New York Yankees.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Arizona Republic's Dan Bickley says the D-backs would be foolish to trade Upton.

"No Diamondbacks player commands our attention like Upton, who is still the symbol of impending greatness. Trade him now, and what is left to sell besides a coaching staff dripping with testosterone?" Bickley opines in his column

Here's my opine: the Diamondbacks know well and good that they have to fix their franchise. This is not the Chicago Cubs that can afford to lose year in and year out and still fill their stands with drunk frat boys. This is Phoenix, where sports fans will love you if you win and ignore you if you don't. In Philadelphia, they will boo and scream and hiss at teams that suck, but in Phoenix the reaction is much worse. Apathy. 

Putting Upton on the market in such a public way serves two purposes for the Diamondbacks. They get to give the impression of exploring all options and they are sending a VERY clear signal to the young player that he better get his act together and start understanding that it's time to step up and play like a winner or he just might find himself in Seattle, or worse -- Kansas City.

As a bonus the Diamondbacks marketing department gets to talk about how great Upton is when they are on the phone selling tickets, "Did you see how many teams were interested in him! You have to come watch this kid play."

We'll wait and see how this all plays out over the next few hours, days or months, but my money is on Upton starting in right field for the Diamondbacks come April 2011.

 


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New York Yankees And Boston Red Sox Kicking The Justin Upton Tire

In the trade saga known as the Justin Upton Sweepstakes of 2010, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox are the two teams that are leading the charge of potential suitors. This should surprise absolutely no one as both teams spend a lot of money and you rarely hear of either team mentioned in free agent or trade talks without the other. They are the dynamic duo of big market, overspending franchises who, like rival siblings, chase each other deeper and deeper into the $200 million payroll rabbit hole. 

As Nick Piecoro from the Arizona Republic explained in his fine bit of trade analysis, Justin Upton's value on the market is very much in the eyes of the beholder. Most beholders' eyes, however, do covet the young potential star with plenty of emphasis on potential. As Piecoro explains, with Upton being owed $45.5 million over the next five years, it's a hefty gamble. If he plays great, his salary is a bargain. If he busts out or even underperforms, he's the kind of player whose contract can drag a mid-market or smaller team right into the tank.

The Yankees and Red Sox, however, are positioned to ignore fiscal responsibility in cases like these and go for it. 

From the Diamondbacks' perspective, as explained by Bob Nightengale in the USA Today, the Yankee's initial offer was a low ball or the variety formerly thrown by Brandon Webb. It sunk. The Red Sox are still in the mix as of this report, but, as General Manager Kevin Towers stated, this all just part of the kicking-the-tires phase of the process.

"If somebody wants to overpay, I'll be more than willing to listen. It's just a thing where people are kicking the tires right now. That's it," Towers said in statement certainly designed as part of the public negotiation process.

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Mark Reynolds: Possible Trade Candidate For Cubs, White Sox?

When it comes to Mark Reynolds, you know what you’re getting. A demonstrative leader, a home run hitter, a strikeout master. You get his maximum effort and his full attention. He is clearly the most recognizable Diamondbacks player after Justin Upton, and also maintains a “salt of the earth” quality about him, hailing from Kentucky.

Is Mark Reynolds a good trade candidate, then? Any team with a quality hitting coach would be licking their lips to pick up this slugger. In a year where Reynolds struck out 211 times and hit below .200, he was still able to hit 32 home runs and drive in 85 RBI for the worst team in the NL West.

Trading Mark Reynolds would be a big step for new GM Kevin Towers to take, signaling a new direction for Arizona baseball and ushering in the era of contact hitting and defense.

Both the Chicago Cubs and White Sox could use Mark Reynolds in their lineups. Reynolds would be a clear upgrade at first base on the north side, replacing Micah Hoffpauir and adding a legitimate threat to play alongside Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano.

On the south side, the White Sox could also use a first baseman. Does Reynolds intrigue these Chicago-based clubs? Towers owes it to himself to explore the trade opportunities, knowing full well that he doesn’t have to take a mediocre offer – Reynolds is signed in Arizona through 2013 including an option year.

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