The Detroit Tigers have signed outfielder Justin Upton to a long-term deal. This comes as a surprise to many because his name has rarely popped up in any rumors during the Hot Stove season. This deal completes the team taking the Tigers to the next level.
This addition fills the one major missing piece in left field. With this addition, the Tigers appear that they want to be in contention for the World Series in 2016. This signing puts the Tigers over the luxury tax limit, proving that Mike Ilitch meant what he said prior to the Winter Meetings.
Upton has spent nine years in the league, playing for the Arizona D-Backs, the Atlanta Braves, and the San Diego Padres. In his last three years, he has played predominately in right field. He has earned two Silver Slugger awards, one at left and one at right. He has career averages of .271/.352/.825. He hit 26 home runs, had 81 RBIs, and stole 19 bases in 2015. For comparison purposes, Rajai Davis stole 18 bases in 2015.
This signing squelches rumors about Yoenis Cespedes coming back to Detroit. It also creates a situation with the crowded group of players in the outfield. At this time, J.D. Martinez and the Tigers have yet to come to an agreement to avoid going to arbitration. But, he is still in place in right field for 2015. With Upton signing, Cameron Maybin and Anthony Gose will most likely platoon the center field position. Tyler Collins will most likely return to the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens. He could be a bench player, but with the signing of Mike Aviles, the odds are low for Collins.
If you are jumping up and down in pure joy, please know you are not the only fan doing this! The 2016 season has just become incredibly exciting.