Detroit Tigers Trade Candidate: Justin Upton


According to Ken Rosenthal via Fox Sports via MLBtraderumors, the Arizona Diamondbacks are discussing a trade involving left fielder Justin Upton. No word on who they are discussing that trade with. For all we know, it could be the Tigers. For all we know, Dave Dombrowski could be announcing a deal sometime tonight. Probably there will be no deal – it isn’t as though this is the first time that Upton’s name has come up in trade talks. Probably if there is a trade, it won’t involve Detroit – the Tigers have a clear and formally stated need for a corner outfielder from outside the organization, but so do a lot of other teams.

Sep. 29, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton (10) stands at bat during the game against the Chicago Cubs in the first inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

But – regardless – just like during the season we can remain optimistic and hope the team will win the game (and the world series) until the last out is recorded, in the offseason we can imagine that the Tigers are just about to acquire Justin Upton until proven otherwise. So… should they?

First – is he any good? Yes. Yes he is. Last year was a bit of a down year for Upton, with only 2.1 WAR (according to BR) and 2.5 WAR (according to Fangraphs). But, he has averaged about 4 wins above replacement level over the past 4 seasons and he’s only 25. He is also a right-handed hitter that hits lefties better than righties – and sadly that is something that the Tigers seem to need. He also adds an element of speed that few current Tigers bring to the lineup. His defense is rated, overall, as only slightly above average. He shows an odd sort of consistency, though. He shows a consistently bad arm (largely in terms of accuracy rather than strength) and consistently bad hands (in terms of errors and drops) – but he gets to so many balls that it all balances out in the end.

Second – is he worth what he would cost? I’d say… probably. The guy is young, and under contract for the next three years. But… he’s coming off a down year rather than a banner year, his contract extension isn’t particularly team friendly (like Denard Span, for example) and outfield looks like the only position with real depth available in the market right now. I don’t think that the Tigers would be forced to pay through the nose for him, though he’s certainly not going to be traded for a song. Any guesses as to what package of prospects or major leaguers it would take to get him would be more than welcome.