The Mariners have been actively pursuing Justin Upton since, well, forever. Ok, maybe not that long. But the Mariners have been interested in Upton since the middle of last season. They’ve been engaged with the Arizona Diamondbacks most of the offseason, trying to acquire the one-time all-star outfielder.
And apparently, they had acquired him … almost. According to FoxSports.com, the D’backs and Mariners agreed to a trade in principle to send Upton to Seattle for several prospects. However, since Upton has the Mariners listed as one of four teams on his limited no-trade clause in his contract, he supposedly vetoed the trade.
“I don’t have any comment on any trade rumors. That’s been our policy all along,” said GM Jack Zduriencik via cell phone.
According to Scott Miller of CBS … here’s what the Mariners were willing to give up …
The deal would have sent three or four players back to Arizona, according to CBSSports.com sources. Included among those players would have been relievers Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor, minor league shortstop Nick Franklin and, likely, one of three minor-league starting pitching prospects: Right-hander Taijuan Walker, lefty James Paxton or lefty Danny Hultzen
Hmm, that’s about what I expected.
The other three teams on his no-trade clause list? The Cubs, Blue Jays and Red Sox.
Why would Upton do such a thing, when it’s clear that the Diamondbacks no longer want his service?
Is it the coffee?
Is it the rain?
Is it that he’s never had really good salmon?
No, realistically, it’s leverage. Sure, you can throw into the fact the Mariners have not been a good team the past few years and there are questions whether they will be a good team the next few years. Sure, you can talk about Safeco Field still being thought of as a hitter’s wasteland – which it may or may or not be. But really, it comes down to Upton and his agent determining the teams that would most likely trade for him, putting them on that no-trade clause list which he can change from year to year, and then using those suitors to figure out the best deal or optimal situation for him.
Dave Cameron of USS Mariner does a good job of outlining it. Dave also lists the ways the Mariners could sweeten the deal to get Upton to agree to waive the clause - namely, granting him free agency a year early in 2014 instead of 2015. Of course, one of the draws of Upton is having him under club control till 2015. This isn’t a complete money grab. Remember, Upton makes $9.75 million this season, $14.2 million on 2014 and $14.5 million. And more money for more years won’t entice him. He isn’t likely to sign an extension with any team, having already done so with the D’Backs.
If you notice not on his no-trade list are the Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers. Both are interested in signing him. Why would Atlanta entice Upton? Because Bossman Junior (BJ) Upton recently signed to play there.
Really though if the Diamondbacks really want to make this deal, they have the option of telling Upton. Fine, you won’t agree to be traded, then we won’t play you more than as a role or bench player. Will that happen? Don’t underestimate manager Kirk Gibson’s issues with Upton. The two clashed last season and Upton remained in his doghouse ever since. Right now, the D’backs have signed Cody Ross to go with Jason Kubel in right field and Adam Eaton. So they could bench Upton. But then you have to run the risk of him losing all value completely.