As the trade deadline approaches, Dave Cameron is once again doing his trade value series at FanGraphs. I’ve been watching it semi-closely with the anticipation that Andrew McCutchen will probably be in the top three or so, but something obviously caught my eye in today’s rankings: Justin Upton dropped from fifth last year to 23rd* this year.
A year ago, it seemed hard to imagine the D’Backs giving up on their star right fielder, but another mediocre season has made Upton seem like an underachiever once again, so any team acquiring him would be making a bet on a big comeback after changing teams. The talent is certainly there, but he’s no longer all that cheap — the last three years of his contract total $39 million — and has a spotty record hitting away from Chase Field. There’s a lot of risk to be absorbed by any acquiring team, but potential franchise players aren’t moved in their mid-20s too often, especially when they’re not close to free agency.
I imagine that the trade talks between Kevin Towers and Neal Huntington are pretty interesting right now. Keep in mind that it is possible that Towers’ talk about waiting until he gets a better offer for Upton over the winter could be posturing if he really wants to trade Upton now, though if he were that insistent on dealing Upton, that would obviously be something worth being concerned about from the Pirates’ perspective.
*Updated to reflect the mistake in the rankings mentioned by Cameron in the linked post