Justin Upton has been in the news again recently, with additional news that the Mets are pursuing him (somewhat). Upton would provide another RH OF power bat to hit in the middle of the order. He's signed until the 2016 season and is still relatively young, meaning he can be another long-term core player for the Next Mets. Given the players that both fit the profile (young, RH power-hitting OF) and are available in the majors and minors, Upton would be the second-best target for the Mets, behind only Giancarlo Stanton. The problem with trading for Upton right now is that the Mets might have to undo their recent work in building up their farm system to get him.....or not.
Upton rejected a trade to the Mariners that would have sent Nick Franklin, Taijuan Walker, and 2 relievers to Arizona. There are a lot of data points we can pull from this deal:
- Upton is available
- AZ is still looking for a SS in a trade for him
- An acquiring team will have to include a pitching prospect to get him
- While the Mariners deal was accepted, it wasn't necessarily the minimum to get Upton, just the best offered.
- Meaning - Another team could conceivably come in with a similar but slightly lesser offer and acquire Upton.
Off the bat, a comparable deal for the Mets would be Zach Wheeler, Wilmer Flores, Bobby Parnell, and Josh Edgin. As much as I like Upton, if that were a price I'd be willing to meet, I'd improve that offer and then shop it to Miami for Stanton. From that standpoint, it's a non-starter.
It had been speculated that teams interested in Upton earlier this winter were looking to first acquire Asdrubal Cabrera from Cleveland and then flip him to Arizona for the slugger. A couple of three-team deals had been rumored been never materialized. I think the Mets should revisit this strategy for their own concerns. What would the cost for Cabrera be? It's not possible to be certain, however we can also look at the Phillies' failed attempt to acquire the SS in November. Their offer was said to be what they dealt for Ben Revere - Vance Worley and Trevor May. The offer was close, but couldn't sway Cleveland.
By using the Philly offer as a baseline, the Mets could offer Dillon Gee and Lucas Duda. Gee is a comparable pitcher to Worley and Duda is a solid upgrade to May. Although May has a live arm, he was 23 in AA and did not perform very well at all. Duda already has some major league seasoning, carries 20-25 HR power, and would give the Indians their best DH option and a young replacement for Travis Hafner.
How would this affect a trade package in comparison to Seattle's offer? Cabrera brings more value than Frankin does. Although I believe Franklin has the talent to eventually be better than Cabrera, Asdrubal has already been to two All-Star games and earned a Silver Slugger. Because Cabrera is an established MLB star player, the Mets would likely not have to include a TOR pitching prospect (Wheeler, Harvey, Syndergaard) as well. I think someone like Fulmer would be an attractive trade piece. If not for the recent acquisition of Noah Syndergaard, I would think of Fulmer as untouchable. Now, the organization has increased depth and I wouldn't be against moving him for someone like Upton. To cover the remaining 2 relievers, I would offer only Bobby Parnell to start. Why? The Seattle offer didn't go through and other offers might not be a strong. No need to set the market....start with this and see what AZ's counter is.
To sum up, the three-team deal would look like this:
METS - Justin Upton
DIAMONDBACKS - Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Fulmer, Bobby Parnell
INDIANS - Dillon Gee, Lucas Duda
This does not include any additional players that might be requested by Cleveland or Arizona, nor does it include any additional players coming to the Mets to balance out the trade. In total, the Mets would be trading Dillon Gee, Lucas Duda, Michael Fulmer, and Bobby Parnell for Justin Upton. Would you make this deal? I certainly would.
Dillon Gee can be replaced in the rotation by Jenrry Mejia. Gee was slated to fill the #5 spot in the rotation anyway (with the Mets looking to sign a FA to go with Santana, Harvey, and Niese) so I don't think that allowing Mejia the chance to prove himself would be awful. In fact, I think he can replicate Gee's 4.10 2012 ERA as well as add more K's. Duda's lineup spot is taken by Upton, so there is no organizational subtraction there. As mentioned above, Syndergaard's arrival makes Fulmer expendable, and the Mets' organizational pitching depth and/or salary flexibility should make replacing Parnell relatively easy. The Mets might have to add one of their other live-arm talents (Cory Mazzoni?) or athletes (Jordanny Valdespin?) to either side of this deal, but I'd still make the trade. Getting Upton without including any core prospects is a steal any way you look at it.