mariners

Justin Upton: Reviewing Seattle Mariners attempted trade

M’s try for a splash

The Mariners hotstove has been quiet since the acquisition of Raul Ibanez a few weeks ago. But things have heated up this week, with MLB Trade Rumors reporting that the M’s made a legitimate attempt at Arizona Diamondbacks rightfielder Justin Upton.

The trade seemed like a done deal, until Upton invoked his no-trade clause.

This was an interesting development on the part of both teams. Here at NWSB we’re breaking down the trade and taking a look at what this could have meant for both teams involved.

Breaking down the attempted trade

The trade would have been a straight up four-for-one deal. The Mariners would have received Justin Upton, and in return the D-Backs would have gotten Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, prospect Nick Franklin and one of Seattle’s Big Three pitching prospects.

It was later reported by CBS’ Jon Heyman that the fourth player—and Big Three member—would have been Taijuan Walker.

Arizona’s perspective

From Arizona’s perspective, this was a perfect trade. The Diamondbacks have been adamant about getting a shortstop back in return for Upton. Nick Franklin fits that bill, and could be at the Major League level very soon.

The move also helps cure Arizona’s bullpen issue. They would have gotten a stud left-hander in Furbush, and a potential closer candidate in young Pryor.

To top it all off, they get one of the best starting pitching prospects in baseball in Taijuan Walker.

While Arizona has made plenty of attempts to trade Upton, this is the best speculative package they’ve been offered to date. They continue talks with other teams, but they could also be sending a message to Upton that it’s Seattle or no one else.

Seattle’s perspective

It’s not hard to see what Seattle was going for with this deal. They need a young cornerstone offensive player whose proven at the MLB level. Justin Upton fits that bill.

But in terms of what they were willing to sacrifice for that player, it’s just too much.

Losing the two bullpen arms would be manageable, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be missed. Furbush’s rubber arm was lights out in 2012, and Pryor has the upside to be an elite closer.

The Mariners front office is trying to make some big splashes this offseason. (Photo: Mark Rebilas / US PRESSWIRE

The Mariners front office is trying to make some big splashes this offseason. (Photo: Mark Rebilas / US PRESSWIRE

Then there’s the case of the two prospects. Unlike Brendan Ryan, Franklin has the upside to provide proficient offense at shortstop. And while tossing James Paxton into the deal could have made sense, Walker—arguably the best of the Big Three—is too much to lose when combined with the other players involved.

Now, at 25 years old Upton is a young player with incredible upside, but his career has been mired in inconsistencies—especially with his power numbers.

He hit 31 home runs in 2011, but that’s wedged between two seasons of just 17 home runs.

In those same two seasons (2010 and 2012) Upton failed to produce an OPS above .800. His career slugging percentage sits at .475, and he’s only broken .500 twice.

The right fielder plays a solid defense and is under team control until 2015. But with previous roster moves Seattle already has a full outfield of Michael Saunders, Raul Ibanez, Franklin Gutierrez and possibly Casper Wells and/or Mike Carp.

In other words, Upton just isn’t worth it. He has huge upside, but until he can prove he can keep his power consistent, a package such as the one Seattle was offering is far too much. The only way this makes sense is if Seattle thinks its getting 2011 Upton—.898 OPS, 31 home runs, 7.7 UZR.

It’s commendable that the Mariner front office is trying to make a splash, but it’s a very good thing this deal was not made.

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