Detroit Tigers: Long-term successors for expensive veterans
Justin Upton’s long-term successor: Christin Stewart or Jose Azocar
Forecasting Justin Upton’s long-term heir-apparent in left field is a bit trickier.
Per Spotrac, Upton can opt out of his contract with the Detroit Tigers after this season. If he doesn’t, he’ll have four seasons left on a deal that runs through 2021.
Should the 29-year-old opt out and seek another payday on the free agent market, the most likely replacement for Upton is prospect Christin Stewart.
Stewart has played predominantly played in left field as a professional so the team wouldn’t have to transition a player in from a different position.
Stewart should also bring similar production to Upton in terms of power.
The 23-year-old has mashed 54 home runs since the start of last season. He also has a penchant for drawing walks.
However, if Upton opts in, he’s obviously the team’s left fielder for the long haul.
Should that happen, Stewart would likely slide over to right field in the Majors.
As it stands, the Tigers have utilized a mix of Alex Presley, Jim Adduci and Andrew Romine in right field since dealing J.D. Martinez to the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 18.
The trio have performed admirably, but Stewart is the better long-term fit in the outfield corners.
Having both Upton and Stewart on the roster would give Detroit a deep lineup that would also feature Miguel Cabrera, Mikie Mahtook, Castellanos and Jeimer Candelario.
In that scenario, Upton’s outfield successor would likely be an outfield prospect in the lower minors like Jose Azocar, Reynaldo Rivera or Jacob Robson who debuts in the Majors towards the end of Upton’s contract.