The Seattle Mariners have been active this offseason, trying to add some offensive pop to their anemic lineup. They signed Jason Bay and traded for Kendrys Morales and have been active in the trade market for other bats. Most notably, they have been pursuing a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks to bring Justin Upton to the Pacific Northwest. However, that deal was rejected by Upton … which may be a good thing for the M’s.
At the time of the proposed deal, it was unclear what Seattle was giving up in the trade. The only information that was out there was that Upton, who has Seattle on his limited “No Trade” list, nixed the deal. Some thought that it was a ploy by Upton and his agent to work a more lucrative deal for the right fielder out of the M’s. As it turns out, Upton may have done Seattle a huge favor.
Reports are now surfacing that the deal involved Taijuan Walker or Danny Hultzen plus Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor or another reliever. In short, the M’s would have sent three of their top 10 prospects and a proven reliever to the desert in exchange for Upton, who has pretty adamantly stated that he plans to test free agency in three years. Can you say “Mortgaging the future”?
Would it be worth giving up a potential ace, closer and possible major league shortstop for Upton? The right handed outfielder is a hot commodity for teams looking for a good offensive option, which the Mariners definitely are, but how good an option is he? Last season, he hit .280 with 17 home runs, 67 RBI and an on-base percentage of .355 while slugging .430 and swiping 18 bases.
Respectable numbers, but not worth what Seattle was ready to give up for him. Add in that Upton, at 25 years old, seems to have peaked in his offensive prowess and the sometimes All Star likely won’t improve going forward. Not to mention, he’s gone in three seasons via free agency. In essence, he would be a short-term rental for a team that isn’t a quick fix away from being a World Series contender. And all it would cost is a huge chunk of the farm system.
The better move for the M’s is to be patient and see how the new dimensions of Safeco Field help the young hitters on the roster. Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, Michael Saunders and Jesus Montero could blossom and, paired with Kendrys Morales, be a pleasant surprise offensively. If that’s the case, then the M’s could be looking for middle rotation and bullpen help rather than a middle of the order bat a few years down the line as they would have traded all of theirs coming up through the minors to Arizona in this deal.
While it seemed like a setback when Upton nixed the deal to come to Seattle, he may have done the franchise a huge favor. While it’s important for the M’s to try and improve their offense whenever possible, no single bat is worth the prospects they were ready to let go of.
But if Jack Zduriencik and the Seattle front office was ready to pull the trigger on this deal, how much pressure is there for the M’s to keep pace in the AL West?