The San Diego Padres aren’t having a very good season, and soon ready to start a rebuild process. A new factor to consider is Melvin Upton Jr., whose resurgence this season suddenly make him a potentially tradeable player, although the market isn’t too hot for outfielders.
At 40-51, with a higher payroll than they want and a limited roster, the Padres are going to start moving pieces, going cheaper and younger. If not by the trade deadline, it’ll happen in the offseason. But Upton bouncing back in San Diego after rough years in Atlanta suddenly opens up an opportunity for the Padres to cash in now on a very expensive player. Upton is making $15.45 million this season and $16.45 million next year.
The 31-year old outfielder had an awful time with the Braves, batting just .198 through 267 games, hitting a total of 21 home runs with 61 RBIs. In 2016, his second season with the Padres (played just 87 games in 2015, which was considerably better than with Atlanta), he has already hit 16 home runs (his best since 2012, like a lot of his stats), batting .262 (his best since 2008) and a .764 OPS. Upton has accounted for 3.2 fWAR while logging 581 plate appearances in San Diego, reviving his career.
Upton will be 32 in August, making him a bit more difficult to move than most, but if the Padres pitch in on his salary and don’t demand too much in prospects, they might be able to speed up their rebuilding plan, even if it costs them heavily this season, barely hanging above the Arizona Diamondbacks in the race to not finish last in the division. Upton has 20 stolen bases this season, and has a shot at entering the 30-30 club, something no one has done since the 2012 season when Mike Trout and Ryan Braun both crossed the threshold.