With things beginning to move in the market, it might not be long before Justin Upton is signed by someone, with the Texas Rangers and possibly the Baltimore Orioles closer than anyone else to completing the deal.
Upton played for the San Diego Padres last season and had a subpar year by his standards, batting just .251 (lowest since 2008) and a sub .800 OPS. All that didn’t prevent him from making the All-Star game for a third time while also hitting 26 home runs, but it does feel as if the 28-year old lost some of his market value on his first (and only) season in San Diego following two years with the Braves and six seasons with the Diamondbacks.
Upton made $14.5 million last season, but teams are now a little wary of giving him a long term deal for something like $100 million. The Rangers are one of those teams, looking for an outfielder and hopefully someone who can deliver 25 home runs or more with their need for power. But right now, they’re trying to get Upton to agree to a one year deal, while he is looking for a long term one. However, considering the hit his value took and the very weak outfield market a year from now, it might be a wise decision to take a one-year deal (or something with an option after one season, maybe for both sides) and get a bigger contract in 12 months.
The Orioles have been talking to Upton’s reps, and have done the same with Yoenis Cespedes. However, they won’t budge until they have given up hope on Chris Davis, who remains silent and patient despite the $154 million, seven-year offer on the table from the Orioles, still waiting for something bigger from someone else or from the Orioles themselves. He seems to be holding up the entire free agency process, but with the recent Royals and Giants moves, maybe it’s time to stop waiting for what he’s going to do.
Upton has 190 career home runs since 2007, playing in 1184 games. He is a .271 hitter throughout his career with a .825 OPS, making the All-Star game three times and getting MVP votes in 2009, 2011 and 2014. He won the Silver Slugger award twice, including in 2014 with the Braves. Unless the Padres shock the world and re-sign him, his next team will be his third in three years, which doesn’t happen often for such a talented and mostly productive player.