Justin Upton officially signed with the Detroit Tigers. There’s a lot to like about the signing, including Upton’s contract, age and potential. Read on for five reasons to appreciate the move.
The Detroit Tigers announced one of the team’s biggest signings of the offseason (and the past couple seasons if we’re completely honest) on Wednesday. Justin Upton officially became a member of the Tigers on a six-year contract that comes with an opt-out option.
Besides the obvious fact that Detroit signed Justin Upton (!), here are five reasons to appreciate the signing.
While not exactly the cheapest contract ever handed out, six years, $132.75 million is the exact number, Justin Upton is worth it. By the time the contract finishes, it may even end up looking like a bargain.
Only 28, Upton has hit .275 with a .832 OPS while averaging 25 home runs, 30 doubles, 80 RBI and 16 stolen bases per season since 2009. In terms of stuffing the stat sheet and contributing across the board, those are standout numbers.
In a high-powered offense, the left fielder has a chance to better those numbers on a yearly basis. Once he does that, the $22 million-and-change salary will start to look like a smart deal for Detroit.
Upton does have an opt-out clause inserted in the contract that allows him to get out of the deal after two years. However, his agent Larry Reynolds, per a tweet from MLB.com’s Jason Beck, said that, “It’s not our intent to come here for two years. Justin’s been on enough teams.”
It would seem that Upton is in it for the long haul for the Tigers.
Long-Term Power Bat
Speaking of the long haul, Upton provides Detroit with a middle-of-the-order bat to build around for the future.
Victor Martinez (36) and Ian Kinsler (33) won’t be playing at a high level forever, and the Tigers will need lineup protection for Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez. Cabrera won’t be around for decades either, so the move gives the team two power bats to build a young core around in Upton and the younger Martinez.
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For the longest time, Upton has been counted on to carry the lineups. He can do this for spells with torrid streaks that last weeks, but he’s been unable to sustain it for a season. With a lineup that also includes the likes of Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Kinsler and J.D. Martinez, Upton won’t be relied upon to put the team on his back.
Nowhere is this more evident when examining a potential Detroit batting order. The 28-year-old could hit sixth behind Cabrera and the two Martinez sluggers. In almost any other lineup, Upton would hit third or fourth.
Based on his stats in the Major Leagues, you can see why Justin Upton was the first-overall pick in the draft. The outfielder brings power (190 career home runs), speed (115 stolen bases) and a strong arm (nine assists last season).
Upton has clearly had his moments (he’s eclipsed a WAR of 4 on three different occasions), however, for one reason or another he hasn’t been able to put it all together on a consistent basis.
Don’t get me wrong, Upton is a fantastic player worth every penny of the contract, but in Detroit, he could finally become the consistent power threat that he’s shown flashes of in the past.
At 28-years-old, Upton is two years younger than Yoenis Cespedes and three years younger than Alex Gordon. Both Cespedes and Gordon would have been fits in Detroit, but due to age, neither would have merited as long of a contract as Upton received.
With Upton on the roster, the Detroit Tigers certainly look like American League Central favorites. While it is too early to consider any team a World Series favorite, the Tigers now stand a good chance to get there with the team’s new left fielder.