The Arizona Diamondbacks seem very anxious to trade outfielder Justin Upton. There only seems to be one problem; Upton doesn’t seem to be too cooperative. Last week, the Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners had a deal worked out for Upton. The problem became that Upton invoked his no-trade clause and blocked the deal. Upton has been firm on not being traded, but the DBacks seem to want the outfielder gone.
A huge part of this is his salary. Upton is owed almost $40 million over the next three seasons. In 2010, he signed a five-year deal that’s backloaded. If we see the player from 2011 that hit .288 with 31 HRs and 88 RBI plus 21 stolen bases, he’s worth every dime of that salary. But in 2012, his numbers slipped to .280, 17 HRs and 67 RBI with 18 steals.
With an increase in pay comes an increase in expectations. The DBacks general manager Kevin Towers may be feeling the pressure to unload what seems to be a contract that hinders the organization, or perhaps there is something he knows about Upton’s health or state-of-mind. Regardless of what happens, there’s already some bad-blood on both sides.
From my vantage point, Upton has a huge upside and is someone a team can build around moving forward. While his decrease in production is an obvious concern, there’s still time for him to get it together and become the player he was projected to be when he was chosen first overall in the 2005 MLB draft. There’s a lot more to this story and we may never know the details. But one thing is for sure; the 2012-13 off-season for Upton has been full of drama and distractions. And we’ll see how this all plays out.