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.