One of the most interesting MLB rumors floating around right now is the Arizona Diamondbacks reported decision to make outfielder Justin Upton available for trade. Upton is one of the better young hitters in the game and is currently experiencing a down year in Arizona after finishing in the top five for National League MVP last season. Still only 24 (he won’t turn 25 until August 25th), Upton should interest every team in Major League Baseball.
It is reported that the Diamondbacks would like to receive a third base prospect, a starting pitcher, or a shortstop prospect in return among other pieces. One team that might have exactly what the Diamondbacks are looking for is the Washington Nationals.
With 2011 sixth overall pick Anthony Rendon, the Nationals could build a nice package to try to acquire Upton. Right now, it looks like Rendon’s path to the Majors might be blocked, at least for the moment. Mike Morse, Adam LaRoche, and Tyler Moore are doing a fairly good job at first base for the Nationals and they just signed Ryan Zimmerman to a huge contract and there is no way they would move him off of third for Rendon, or anyone for that matter. Right now Rendon is on the disabled list and might not return this season. However, the potential is there for him to be a cornerstone player, whether it be in Arizona or Washington, if he can stay healthy.
It isn’t often that someone with Upton’s potential is placed on the market and Nationals GM Mike Rizzo must attempt to acquire a player like Upton, regardless of the cost. Well, aside from having to give up Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper that is. A package for Upton should start with Rendon and tall, right-hander Alex Meyer. Shortstop prospect Zach Walters could also become part of the package if necessary.
That might seem like a lot for Nationals fans to give up for a player but a player of Justin Upton’s ability rarely hits the trade market, especially at his age. A lineup of Zimmerman, Harper, Upton, Morse, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond, and Danny Espinosa would scare a lot of teams in the National League, especially with the kind of rotation Rizzo has put together for the Nationals. A core of Harper, Zimmerman, Desmond, and Upton would give the Nationals a dynamic offensive core for years to come and could actually bring a World Series home to the nation’s capital. And, if Tyler Moore can hit like he does in the minors, the Nationals could become downright scary for any team to face. The pitching is there for the Nationals. It is time for the offense to rise to the challenge. Adding Upton would certainly go a long way in doing that.