Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago cites that the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks talked about a trade for outfielder Justin Upton. He didn’t mention when the talks were held, but they didn’t last long. The Diamondbacks asked for shortstop Starlin Castro and the Cubs ended talks right there.
I don’t blame them because Castro is more valuable to the team than Upton would. Castro plays a position where good young athletes are far from. While Upton plays a position where you can find a player easier. Castro won’t hit for power like Upton would and be a middle of the order bat, but Castro will hit for a better average. Castro will likely walk less, but have fewer strikeouts.
Comparisons – stats from the 2012 season:
Starlin Castro is 22-years old (23 in March) – had a .283/.323/.430/.753 line in 646 at-bats. He also posted 29 2B, 12 3B, 14 hr, 78 rbi, 25 SB, 36 BB and struck out 100 times.
Justin Upton is 25-years old – had a .280/.355/.430/.785 line in 554 at-bats. He also posted 24 2B/ 4 3B, 17 hr, 67 rbi, 18 SB, 63 BB and struck out 121 times.
As you can see, the stats don’t look too differently. However, Upton had almost 100 at-bats fewer than Castro. In reality, I think Upton’s average would go down and the rest of the stats to go up if he had the same amount at-bats as Castro.
Some people may take Upton over Castro and they can present a good case for their reasoning. But I am not one of them. Castro is younger and has more upside in him while Upton is or close to his peak. Taking one for the other does not make the team any better this season and possibly down the road as well. Having both Castro and Upton on the same team would be sweet, but also a good dream.
Even if the Cubs completed a trade for Upton, the trade would still be complicated. As Upton has a limited 4-team no-trade cause and the Cubs are one of the teams on the list. If the D’backs approached Upton with a trade to the Cubs, could he still agree to them? Of course, but the chance of that happening would be very low. There’s a reason he would reject a trade to the Cubs in the 1st place. So, what would change? Something could happen, but that’s more of a pipedream than anything else.
For instance, the D’backs and the Seattle Mariners worked out a trade for Upton on January 10th, but he rejected the trade. As the Mariners are one of the other teams on his 4-team no trade cause. That had to be heartbreaking for the D’backs because they were getting one hell of a package from the Mariners.
The D’backs would have received 21-year old infielder Nick Franklin, 26-year old pitcher Charlie Furbush, 23-year old pitcher Stephen Pryor and 20-year old pitcher Taijuan Walker for Upton. Franklin was the 38th best prospect entering the 2011 season and continues to move up the chain in the Mariners organization. Furbush has made the majors already and hasn’t looked too bad. Pryor was the Mariners’ 9th best prospect entering the 2012 season and did pitch in the majors last season. Walker is by far the best Mariners player in the deal whom could have the best future ahead of him. He was ranked baseball’s top 20 prospect prior to the 2012 season according to Baseball America.
So, that’s what a deal would look like in any potential Upton trade. If the D’backs don’t see a trade they like, he won’t go anywhere. He still has 3 years and 28.75 million left on his contract. Which is a pretty favable contract.
I think Upton needs a change of scenery more than anything. I do think he’ll get it eventually and as early as spring training.
From the looks of it, the Cubs didn’t want to pay the price for Upton and/or the D’backs only insisted on Castro. By that, the Cubs ended talks and haven’t spoken since. A Cubs/D’backs trade for Upton will not happen. A trade was unlikely in the 1st place, but the Cubs were just doing their due diligence and checking in on a potential Upton trade. It doesn’t hurt to try and every team does this on a lot players during the off-season/regular season.
Prediction: Many teams are interested in Upton, but when it’s all over and done with, Upton will be traded to the … Texas Rangers!