Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Justin Upton, both the person and the ballplayer, isn't likely a mystery to Josh Byrnes, who as GM of the Diamondbacks signed Upton to his first professional contract and, four years later, in 2010, an extension for six years and $51.2 million. Now that Upton is rumored a potential trade candidate, should Byrnes go after his former right fielder?

Yes, wrote several of the world's smartest Padres fans, responding to my question on Twitter. Upton, they noted, is a potential superstar. Already he's a good major leaguer, under contract through 2015. A player of his talents, the line of thinking goes, probably would cost too much for the Padres to sign as a free agent. One of the Tweeps stated that Upton, named to two All-Star teams before his 24th birthday, has more impact talent than any player in the San Diego farm system.

Just a season ago, Upton was an All-Star who finished fourth in the MVP voting after batting .289 with 31 home runs and 39 doubles. Did you know he's only 24? I thought him older, recalling him playing in the National League Championship Series five years ago.

My takeaways are these:

* When he's on his game, Justin Upton sure is a lot of fun to watch. He'll buggywhip home runs of 400, even 450 feet, and isn't particular about which wall they sail over. First to third, he's nearly as fast as Cameron Maybin. Whether his lukewarm season this year is the start of a trend, I don't know, but the typical peak years for a ballplayer are ahead of him.

* Sorry to take away the punch bowl, but I doubt the Padres become a serious player for Upton. I doubt the Padres are looking to shift into win-now mode, especially with their ownership in flux. Looking at Upton's salaries of $9.75 million for next year, $14.3 million for 2014 and $14.5 million for 2015, the Padres may decide those slices are too big for their payrolls. Generally speaking, teams don't go to or win a World Series with one player consuming more than 16 percent of the payroll. The Padres have never opened a season with a projected payroll over $75 million. The payroll was a major league-low $55 million entering this year.

* For Upton, the Diamondbacks probably would want advanced prospects of the can't-miss variety, and an attractive big leaguer or two. The Padres may not match up on either score. Several Tweeps mentioned Chase Headley as a trade chip for Upton because Arizona seeks a third baseman. It would take more than Headley to land Upton. You may recall, Kevin Towers made it clear, when speaking to me and other scribes three offseasons ago, on the record, that he wasn't the president of the Chase Headley fan club. In published remarks, Towers said both he and Bud Black preferred Kevin Kouzmanoff to Headley. Like everyone else, the Gunslinger is entitled to change his mind.

* For what it's worth, both Towers and Byrnes have shown they're willing to trade within the division and with each other. In their previous GM jobs, the two swapped Scott Hairston and Leo Rosales in 2007, and Tony Clark and Evan Scribner as part of a Padres salary dump in 2008. Still, I'd be surprised if Upton was part of a third trade between the two.

1 comment:

  1. Headley and James Darnell. That way they get two options at 3B and Darnell can also play left field