Picture this image with pinstripes. (Image: Jennifer Stewart, US PRESSWIRE)

Yankees Trade Target: Justin Upton

It is just days into the offseason, we all are trying to transition swiftly into it while pondering all the possible moves that Brian Cashman and the Yankees could make. The anticipation of the off-season is what makes it exciting for baseball fans. There’s an anxiety to the offseason when your team could be picking up a big name player, who could be the missing piece to your team’s eventual success. For some time now, the Yankees have been rumored to be one of the candidates for a trade involving Justin Upton. This didn’t seem reasonable 2-3 years ago due to a lack of flexibility in the team’s outfield. Now wish Nick Swisher being on his way out now and Curtis Granderson likely on his way out in late 2013, the front office has some outfield positions to fill.

Let’s get to know Justin Upton a little better before we continue.

Upton is 25 years-old and will be going into his seventh MLB season when the calendar turns to April next season. He was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round with the first pick in the 2005 Amateur Draft. He’s a two-time All-Star (2009 & 2011) and finished fourth in the NL MVP race in 2011. He’s signed through 2015, meaning Upton will be a free agent in 2016. So if he is obtained via trade his costs are controllable.

We can’t base anything Upton has done without numbers though. So here are some of his career statistics.

.278 AVG/.357 OBP/.475 SLG/.359 wOBA/116 wRC+

Pretty good numbers for playing majority of his games in a pitchers park out in Arizona. I’m sure his power numbers would increase dramatically in New York even as a right -handed batter. Something the Yankees are in need of. His power numbers have been jumping around for the past few seasons. His ISO was .232 in 2009, .170 in 2010, .240 in 2011, and .150 in 2012. If the trend continues and the Yankees somehow acquired him, then they’ll get a power year from Upton.

Much like Upton’s power numbers, his overall statistics have been jumping around from great to slightly above average. In his MVP caliber year in 2011 he posted a triple slash of .289 AVG/.369 OBP/.529 SLG, along with a .385 wOBA and 139 wRC+. Yet, in 2012 Upton had what we consider a down year for his standards. That included a .280 AVG/.355 OBP/.430 SLG/.341 wOBA/108 wRC+. If this is considered a down year, I’d be very pleased to see Upton have a good year in pinstripes. As a young player, Upton still has plenty of time to work on his consistency. He also seems durable, playing in at least 150 games in each of the past two seasons.

What would it take to get Upton to New York though? Likely a lot of prospects. Earlier I stated that Upton is a controllable player, which can be a positive and a negative. It’s a positive in that the Yankees won’t have to pay him quickly after the trade. It’s a negative in that means he’s more costly in terms of prospects.

I could see this deal working out. Arizona would need a premier prospect in return like Mason WilliamsGary Sanchez, or Tyler Austin. I prefer holding onto Williams so I would send over Austin or Sanchez. The Diamondbacks would likely want Sanchez because he’s going to hit 20 years old soon while the other two have already hit 20. By then the Yankees would have to offer a prospect of a lesser degree; for example a player like David Adams. If the Diamondbacks would to take Nunez in addition to Adams that wouldn’t be a problem either. Then to round out the deal the Yankees would probably send over a pitcher, possibly Brett Marshall.

Yankees receive: Justin Upton

Diamondbacks receive: Gary Sanchez C, David Adams 2B, Eduardo Nunez SS and Brett Marshall RHP

These are some of the top Yankees prospects along with the team’s utility man. Trading away Sanchez may mean trading away a prospect that could show even more power than Montero. His power at his age is that good, but I’d easily give him up along with these other guys for a sure thing like Justin Upton.

Last week in my post about Curtis Granderson I suggested that these trades would lead to our demise. Although that may be the truth, I don’t believe that’s the case here. When Upton’s deal eventually runs out, he’ll be the same age as Granderson was when he was first acquired by the Yankees. Meaning they’ll have most of his prime years being controlled.

This deal would work out for both teams. The Yankees satisfy their need for a right-handed hitter and a right fielder, while the Diamondbacks get a top-hitting prospect along with a projected to be serviceable second basemen, a utility player with MLB experience and a middle to back end of the rotation starting pitcher.

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