The Detroit Tigers are adding even more beef to an already big-hitting lineup.
The Tigers signed free agent outfielder Justin Upton to a six-year, $132.75 million deal, according to reports. FOX’s Ken Rosenthal says the contract includes an opt out for Upton after his second year.
Upton, 28, was hanging out on the free agent market with interest from many teams, but there was very little chatter about concrete offers he was receiving. There was talk that the Tigers also had interest in Yoenis Cespedes, but apparently they decided to roll with Upton instead.
Upton is a three-time All-Star who has 192 career home runs. He averages 26 dingers and 32 doubles per season, to go along with a .271/.352/.473 career slash line. His defense rates as mediocre to below-average per FanGraphs, but he brings so much offense to the table he is still a valuable asset.
With Upton you know you are getting reliable production from someone who appears to be in the middle of his prime. The Tigers are getting that for around $22 million per season, which is quite reasonable given today’s contracts.
The Tigers will surrender a draft pick for signing Upton, who turned down a qualifying offer from the Padres. Detroit also becomes a very right-handed-heavy lineup with the likes of Miguel Cabrera, JD Martinez, Ian Kinsler, Jose Iglesias and Cameron Maybin, among others.
Ultimately this is another solid move for the Tigers, but don’t be surprised if Upton’s stay with the franchise is short given his opt-out clause.
The Rangers have been mostly quiet on the free agency landscape this offseason, but they may just be subscribing to the ancient adage of “Power moves only.”
According to a report by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports on Wednesday, the Rangers are interested in signing free agent outfielder Justin Upton. However, their interest is said to only be for a one-year deal which may take them out of the running for Upton, who supposedly wants a longer-term contract.
Sources: #Rangers interested in JUpton on one-year contract, but budget an issue. Upton plans to keep exploring market, seeking longer deal.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 6, 2016
Upton is coming off a relatively down 2015 campaign with the Padres (at least by his standards) in which he batted .251/.336/.454 with 26 home runs and 81 RBIs. His market has been almost radio silent this offseason, but it was only a matter of time before someone came knocking on the door of the 28-year-old All-Star.
Though Upton’s defense seems to get worse every season, the Rangers would love to have him, especially with the remains of Shin-Soo Choo and Josh Hamilton featuring prominently at the corner outfield positions.
It’s a shrewd move for Texas, lowballing an available superstar that has been overlooked by the market to see if he bites. Upton may scoff at the offer as he obviously wants as much long-term security as he can get and will hold out hope for a multi-year deal as long as he can. But the reality is that if demand for Upton, who comes attached with draft-pick compensation, doesn’t heat up soon, he could just have to settle for being poached on a one-year deal like the one the Rangers are offering.
Image Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Dodgers rookie Joc Pederson has been getting it done for the team with his bat, and now he’s also showing he has quite the glove.
The center fielder robbed Justin Upton of what otherwise would have been a walk-off hit for the Padres during Sunday’s game in San Diego. Take a look at the catch:
Upton was swinging 3-0 with two men on in a 2-2 game with two outs in the ninth. Upton swore he had hit a ball that won the game — possibly even one that would have been a 3-run home run. But Pederson tracked the ball and made the catch at the warning track. He was going full-speed and crashed into the wall to preserve the tie game.
Upton’s reaction was priceless:
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) June 14, 2015
To show you how important that catch was, the game went to extra innings afterwards and the Dodgers won it 4-2 in 12. Not only was it a beautiful play, but it also was critical in helping the team pull out a win.
A.J. Preller is a man on a mission and has turned the San Diego Padres into a completely different team in a very short amount of time on the job.
The first-year GM has acquired Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Derek Norris among others. On Friday, he acquired Justin Upton from the Braves for a handful of players. The acquisition of Upton, who clubbed 28 home runs last season, gives the Padres a major boost. They now have Kemp, Upton, Myers and Norris in the middle of the lineup, which suddenly is really looking legitimate. Plus, Preller plans to add Will Middlebrooks at third base next.
The issue is that acquiring Upton came at a cost to San Diego.
The Padres sent Max Fried, Jace Peterson, Dustin Peterson and Mallex Smith to Atlanta in return for only one guaranteed season of Upton, who is a free agent after the year. That is a big risk.
Fried is the centerpiece of the return for Atlanta, as he was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2012 draft. The 6-foot-4 lefty from Harvard-Westlake School in LA has gone 6-9 with a 3.59 ERA during his pro career. He got a late start in 2012 because he signed late, and then he missed nearly all of last season after injuring his elbow/forearm and eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery. Fried is expected to miss the entire upcoming season as he recovers, but then he should be back in 2016. He will probably be a 22-year-old Single-A ball, meaning his development is somewhat behind schedule, but the Braves probably believe he will still be a good pitcher.
Jace Peterson was the No. 58 overall pick in 2011 by the Padres. A middle infielder from McNeese State, Peterson made it up to the bigs last season but only went 6-for-53 (.113) in his debut. A speed and average guy, Peterson has batted .287/.381/.411 during his minor league career while stealing 148 bases. He might struggle to hit at the big league level, but he should be a good fifth infielder at the least.
Dustin Peterson was another one of San Diego’s top prospects. He was the No. 50 pick in the 2013 draft out of Gilbert High School in Arizona. A third baseman, Peterson showed some pop last season by hitting 31 doubles and 10 home runs in 126 games at Single-A Fort Wayne. He had low walk totals (25) and high strikeout numbers (137) last season and hit just .233. If he can improve his batting average in his second full season in the minors, he will be in good shape. Perhaps San Diego feels that his high strikeout total and low average were concerns.
Mallex Smith was a 5th-round pick by the Padres in 2012 out of Santa Fe Community College in Tallahassee. He is small at 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds, but he has great speed and good bat control. A left-handed batter, Smith shined in half a season of high-A ball last season. He batted .327/.414/.475 with five home runs and 40 stolen bases in 55 games for Lake Elsinore last year. He had 88 stolen bases on the season in 120 games playing Single-A ball. His speed is good enough to get him to the big leagues. As long as he can keep hitting, he’ll be a very valuable player.
Upton isn’t the only thing the Padres are getting from Atlanta, though. They also received pitcher Aaron Northcraft.
Northcraft is a 24-year-old right-hander from Orange County in SoCal. An above-average starting pitcher in High-A and Double-A ball, Northcraft struggled last season at Triple-A. He went 0-7 with a 6.54 ERA in 12 starts. For his minor league career, Northcraft is 40-43 with a 3.91 ERA in 118 starts. He would probably be a No. 10 or 11 starting pitcher option in the organization at best.
We’re not even a month into the new Major League Baseball season, but we’ve already seen a few impressive home runs launched.
Against the New York Mets on Thursday, it was Justin Upton’s turn to get into the act.
In the bottom of the third inning, the younger of baseball’s Upton brothers hit his second home run of the game. The first went a modest 379 feet. The second, almost one hundred feet further.
Justin Upton's 3rd inning HR went 477 feet, the longest home run at Turner Field since Adam Dunn's 479-footer on Sept. 14, 2010.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 11, 2014
Upton’s prodigious clout is currently the second-longest home run of the young season behind the one mentioned above by Giancarlo Stanton, which you should take a look at.
This is the look of a man who just served up a 477-ft home run.
Just when you thought a couple of siblings would have some special connection on the field, the Upton brothers go out and collide tracking a fly ball in the outfield.
New York Mets shortstop Omar Quintanilla flied a ball to left center with two outs in the top of the fifth on Tuesday. B.J. Upton, who plays center for the Atlanta Braves, seemed to be calling for the ball, but younger brother Justin did not yield. The two ended up colliding. Though Justin, who is more muscular, did not seem to bothered by the collision, B.J. stayed on the ground for a bit before getting up and playfully shoving Justin as he exited the field. B.J. did make the catch to end the inning and keep the game scoreless.
So, no, just because they are brothers does not mean the Uptons have a “special connection” on the field. And what’s even weirder is this happened at home where it was likely quieter.
The Braves signed B.J. as a free agent during the offseason, and they acquired Justin in a trade. Since starting off the season scorching with 12 home runs in April, Justin has cooled off and posted an OPS below .653 since then. B.J. started off terribly, batting below .147 in each of the first two months. He has picked it up since then and has an OPS close to .900 in June. Can you believe the Braves are 13 games over .500 with most of their lineup hitting below .250? Just wait til some of those guys pick it up.
This Upton-Upton combination is working out nicely for the Braves.
Justin and BJ Upton became the first brothers to hit a tying and walk-off home run in the same inning in MLB history, per Elias Sports Bureau. BJ went deep off Chicago’s Carlos Marmol to lead off the ninth and tie the Braves-Cubs game at 5 on Saturday. Two batters later, Justin homered to win the game. It was Justin’s fifth home run of the season and second of the game, while the homer was BJ’s first of the season.
Interestingly, Buster Olney notes that all of Justin’s home runs this season have come with two strikes. Of course, it’s easy for power-hitting Major Leaguers to hit home runs when the pitcher is leaving you flat 93-94 mph fastballs over the middle of the plate as Marmol did.
Atlanta signed older brother BJ as a free agent in the offseason, and they followed it up by acquiring Justin in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Through five games, the moves are working out quite nicely.
Do you think this is what Atlanta had in mind when they acquired the brothers? That was easily one of the coolest feats I’ve seen in baseball. They keep this up, and they might just move ahead of Kate in the Upton Power Rankings.