Yankees would take that swing any day of the week (Photo: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE)

Dare to Dream – The Justin Upton Edition

Allow yourself to dream for a moment. Just sit back in your favorite chair, close your eyes and conjure up images of Justin Upton roaming the outfield at Yankee Stadium in pinstripes. That powerful right-handed swing crushing pitches into the left field seats. Think up images of him using his howitzer of an arm to gun down guys at the plate. You are inevitably smiling, maybe salivating at these pictures… WELL, WAKE UP!

Sadly, this is a reality that will not take place and not because Upton can block a potential trade to the Yankees, but because they lack the pieces to get the all-star right fielder. According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, Arizona Diamondbacks GM, Kevin Towers, said the team isn’t giving up on the season. Towers said:

“We’re not looking for prospects, we’re still in win mode. We’re certainly not in sell mode at all.”

That should sum up any argument right there, correct? Well, I did say dream a tad, so let’s do just that. First, let’s examine his contract because, we already know what he’s capable on the field, so the Yankees “low” austerity budget will be one potential roadblock. He is owed $6.75M in 2012, $9.75M in 2013, $14.25M in 2014, and $14.5M in 2015. Now your eyes might have popped out at those last two years, but that’s relatively cheap for a power hitting right fielder who will turn age 25 at the end of August. The Yankees current outfielder, Nick Swisher will be looking for upwards to $10-$12M on the open market and he’ll turn age 32 in November. It’s easy to see that Upton is very affordable, given his talent.

Another question is, who will the Yankees give up to get Upton in return? As of right now, the farm is depleted of high-level talent. The cavalry is all still in A-ball. On top of that, Towers iterated he still wanted to field a competitive ball club this year. It’s not like the Yankees have any spring chickens on the major league squad other than the injured Brett Gardner and some pitching. However, do any of Gardner, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, packaged with some low-level A and B prospects, interest the one-time Yankee special assignment scout in Towers? I doubt it.

The saying goes, you have to give something up of value, to get something of value in return. The Diamondbacks and Yankees simply don’t match up. It might be a little different if say Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, and Gary Sanchez were on the brink of breaking in, but if that were the case, would you give them up for Upton? I would take a known quantity over potential any day.

Just for the sake of letting your mind wonder let’s take a quick look at some of his stats. Upton had major trouble out of the gate, hitting to the tune of .242/.354/.379 in April. He followed that up with a .252/.347/.379 offering in May. All told, he hit five homers over those two months combined. He then put together a good June (.333/.392/.437), but still only recorded two home runs. A deeper look reveals he’s hitting 45.6% of balls in play on the ground, which is nearly 10% more than last season. Obviously, because of that, his flyball rate is down, but strangely his line drive rate is a full 1.5% higher than his career average (19.2%). He’s making solid contact, but he’s not hitting with loft.  It’s scary to think that his BABIP is .340, despite hitting only .273/.353/.401, but it’s likely due to his increase in line drives. What people seem to forget is, he’s just 24, so he’s still working out the kinks. Although defensive metrics are still not an exact science, he ranks favorably in most of them, so the Yanks wouldn’t lose much plopping him in right field and letting him have at it.

I’m betting that most Yankees fans would absolutely take a former MVP candidate, who is cost-controlled, and so young. Imagine what Kevin Long could do with that swing! However, you’re going to have to clean up your drool because the Yankees and Diamondbacks just don’t fit together on this trade. Hey, dare to dream! At least that’s free.

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Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks Dbacks Justin Upton New York Yankees Yankees

  • Benjamin Orr

    Great article Jimmy.

    I do think getting Upton would be a pipe dream, but hey, it’d be nice. I’m actually pretty satisfied with our outfield, but having Upton could never hurt. I still think if we go after someone though, I’m still on board for saving any trade stuff for Cole Hamels (another pipe dream haha).

    It also does depends on who we would have to give up. If it comes to giving up Ivan Nova or Phil Hughes, I’d decline it. These are two young pitchers who are turning into great pitchers and they’ll be valuable to us on down the road.

    • Jimmy Kraft

      Personally, I wouldn’t give up on Nova or Hughes even if it were for a bat like Upton. The Yankees already have a great offense, it’s the pitching that has many nervous.

      Again, I would love to have Hamels too… even more so than Upton. Damn the Texas Rangers for becoming such an annoyance with FAs and trade rumors! Driving that price up!

      PS- Thanks for the kind words

  • arth65456

    Great article, but Arizona I don’t think is going to be sellers. Their bullpen is okay, not as good as last year but still good. The lineup is solid as well. If they can get another starting pitcher or Daniel Hudson comes back, they can challenge LA or San Francisco for the NL West

    • Jimmy Kraft

      Hey arth, sorry for the late reply. Thank you for the kind words.

      As for your comment, I think they will ultimately hold on to him. It’s not like they have to trade him and they’re only 5 games back in the NL West. I’m still not convinced LA’s pitching will hold up. However, it’s scary to think the Giants are where they are with Lincecum pitching so badly…

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  • Joel

    I wonder why no brings up trade granderson…its like some unspeakable thing…how r the yanks going to af ford cano and grandy unless by some miracle we can save bout 4 or 5 mil by pulling an a.j. move w arod..good luck on that one..i would much rather see upton swisher gardner outfeild..they could produce like atlantas outfield…and u could have swish and upton for nearly the same price as granderson..and compare swishers sabermetrics w current outfeilders..it should happen…throw in david phelps..and maybe arizona could attach a reliever and a hidden propect like campos..i think phelps could produce in the nl west very well..even though i love him as a yank..and grandy as well…but three very solid outfeilders is better than two and a rethread..

    • Jimmy Kraft

      Hey Joel,

      I think no one is bringing Grandy up because he’s two years younger than Swisher, is the better hitter, and plays better defense. What more can you ask for? Bringing in Upton would obviously make Swisher expendable and he’d be cost-controlled until 2015…that’s three seasons of good production for less than market price. The Yankees, in turn, can use those savings toward paying Granderson or let him walk, move Gardner to CF and look for LF help.

      What I’m saying is an Upton, Gardner, Swisher outfield sounds good in theory, but might not be practical. Meanwhile, can Gardner ever stay healthy? Granderson has been very healthy while in pinstripes and something has to be said about that.

      • Joel

        Grandy is a bit overrated..hes on pace for nearly 200 strikeouts..swisher might b a little older..but he has had no decline in production..in fact he is putting up some very good numbers this yr..gardner didnt have a history of injury until this yr…the yanks dont need another 20 mil a yr contract like grandy could get..and w the yr cano is having he might take 25 to keep around…especially being hes a boras guy..we r going to need ..a 3rd baseman sooner than people think..a closer..cause soriano is going to walk if rivera comes back..and im not sold on david r..as a closer..we r going to need starting pitching if the youngsters dont develop..and a catcher..if they sign cano grandy to huge deals the yanks will have roughly 60 mil to play with..if we keep swish..have upton and gardner and sign a solid 4th OF..we only need swish for a three yr deal..giving time for either austin or williams to arrive..trade grandy while his value is high and the yanks can get something in return.

        • Jimmy Kraft


          I respect your opinion, I just don’t agree with it. I like Nick Swisher, but he’s 33 and will be age 34 before next season. Giving him a three-year above market contract for declining stats, isn’t what Hal and Co. have planned for 2014 austerity budget. I would rather use the money saved on NOT signing Swisher toward pitching.

          I also don’t believe Granderson is “a bit overrated”. Sure he strikes out a ton (26.2% K-rate in 2012), but he also provides power and on-base%. This season Granderson has an OBP of .352 compared to Swisher’s .342. Meanwhile, the power numbers aren’t even close .512 vs. .477 SLG and .263 vs. .216 ISO in favor of Grandy. I would take that power over the 5% more strikeouts Grandy has than Swisher, along with being two years younger any day of the week.

          Why are we trading Granderson again? The Yanks are eight games up in the division, and you want them to trade one of their biggest assets? That makes little sense to me…

          Also A-Rod isn’t going anywhere, so I’m unsure of your “we r going to need ..a 3rd baseman sooner than people think” comment. The guy is signed until 2017, I believe. Sure he is a shell of himself nowadays, but paying him $20M+ per year until then, he’ll at least DH in his last two seasons.

          As for closer, even if Soriano opts out – which is a real possibility after his season so far – we still have Robertson waiting in the wings (despite you not being completely sold on him) and *GASP* Joba may make his way into the mix (bold prediction on my part). It’s unsettled, but Mo will return in 2013, I’m sure he doesn’t want to end his career on that fluke injury.

          Thanks for the comment, I enjoy this banter, Joel!

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