What Would Justin Upton Cost in a Trade?

Making the rounds this afternoon is the conjecture from a "rival executive" that the Mets are talking with the Padres. With outfield and offense areas of weakness for the Mets, the natural assumption is Justin Upton is the target--especially considering many believe Alderson is a fan of Upton and has been for some time.

A screenshot of Ken Rosenthal's article titled "How will each team approach the non-waiver trade deadline?" which you can read here

Alderson is a General Manager. It is his job to kick the tires on any player who is available who could help his club and organization in both the short and the long term. That does not mean a deal is eminent nor does it mean any hypothetical trade I list below has ever been mentioned. This is merely a thought exercise on what it would take to get Justin Upton.

When figuring out the value of a player in the open market and which players make sense in a trade, there are three things to keep in mind:

1.) What is the market? How many teams are bidding on this player, how desperate are they and what talent can they offer to get him?

(1a. What have comparable players gone for recently? This is not always tried and true but it does help gauge the market to a degree)

2.) Where is the player vis-a-vis contract? Walk year? (which, mid-season, means no draft pick compensation to the team he is traded to) Signed for the next half decade? If so, for how much? How much will the player's team kick in for the deal to get done?

3.) What are the needs of the team you are trading with? Where are they in their rebuilding or restructuring process?

Answer #1: To answer question #1, I will answer #1a first. Jason Heyward, a comparable outfielder as far as overall value is concerned was traded to from the Braves to the Cardinals over the winter for a very good starting pitcher in Shelby Miller. Some people would call Miller an ace, I'm happy to call him a "front line" arm--be that a #1 or a #2. Regardless, Miller is a top talent and a very good return for a one-year rental. However, if Jason Heyward signs elsewhere this off-season, the Cardinals get a first round compensation pick. They know that trade will either be Jason Heyward+long extension for Shelby Miller or Jason Heyward+first round compensation draft pick for Shelby Miller. Given that difference, Justin Upton's return could get knocked down a peg from the return the Braves got for Heyward.

Answer #2: Justin Upton is in the walk year of his contract. Whichever team trades for him will get him as a 2.5 month rental unless they can work out a contract extension--something they will be able to attempt during an exclusive negotiating window in the off-season. The risk, however, is that Upton does not sign an extension and leaves for free agency, leaving his incumbent team with nothing to show for their trade outside of the 2.5 months of play in 2015.

Answer #3: The Padres are an interesting team. I think it's fair to say they should look to restructure but there is so much talent on that team and in the high minors that a full rebuild seems counterproductive. This is a guess but I would think that prospects from the upper minors or young, controllable major league players would be of the most interest to the Padres.

So where does this leave the Mets in relation to a trade with the Padres for a half season rental of Justin Upton? If I am AJ Preller (a former protege of Sandy Alderson's for what that's worth), here's what I do:

AJP: Noah Syndergaard. A trade for Upton has to include Syndergaard.

SA: I'm not going to be able to do that. Syndergaard isn't going anywhere. What else can we do?

AJP: How about Matz? We could use a strong lefty out there every fifth day.

SA: Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard and Matz are going to be hard "no"s but we have plenty of pitching depth if that is what you're after.

AJP: I'm liking what Fulmer has done recently. Healthy?

SA: Throwing 99 MPH with ease and dominating the Eastern League, what do you think?

AJP: Conforto and Fulmer. Lowest I go.

SA: I can give you Ynoa and Nimmo and we'll take the contract.

I think Preller walks away from Ynoa/Nimmo, Sandy walks away from Conforto/Fulmer but they might have an arrangement at Nimmo/Fulmer.

What that says, in essence, for giving up Upton, we're more than replacing the draft pick you would have gotten if he leaves in free agency, paying for his services, and overpaying a bit so no one else (Twins? Rangers? Mariners?) gets his services. It is a high price. Both Nimmo and Conforto are former first round picks who are enjoying success in the upper minors and are both, in my book at least, top 100 prospects.

As a disclaimer, I do not know the market. I have no idea how many teams see Upton as "that piece" that will get them to the post-season. I also have no idea if Preller will get stuck on the idea that Upton deserves to net Syndergaard or Matz and won't move off of that price. However, given the current state of the Padres and the status of Upton's contract (and San Diego's ability to re-sign him), Nimmo and Fulmer would be a great return for them. That's Upton's replacement in the outfield for next year (and many after) and a potential #2/#3 starter beginning in 2016 as well.

That is my take on Justin Upton. It should probably cost Noah Syndergaard. If the market is what I think it is and Alderson works his magic, I think he could be had for Brandon Nimmo and Michael Fulmer. You do that trade praying Justin Upton signs an extension and that the Wilpons pay for it. Otherwise, it is a lot of talent to give up for 2.5 months of an outfielder who may not even get the Mets to the playoffs and may not sign an extension.

Sound off in the comments: Would you trade Brandon Nimmo and Michael Fulmer for Justin Upton?


Werdna said...

I do that trade if the Mets management will be aggressive in attempting to resign him; if they won't, then no. Because ownership is very stingy, the Mets need the young players to supplement the roster, and without the guarantee that the Mets will attempt to resign Upton, the improvement he'll add is not likely enough for me.

Stephen Guilbert said...

Agreed. If there's any sense that the Wilons would not sign Upton to the monstrous extension he is going to get, then NImmo/Fulmer is too much. Both are immensely talented players.

Robb said...

Too much for me as a rental. But its really nimmo not fulmer that id be hesitant to give up.

Kevin S said...

I think Fulmer & Nimmo is probably what it would cost to make that trade now. Maybe you can hold back Nimmo until 15 minutes before the deadline but that seems like a reasonable return for Upton since SD won't be able to sign him long term.

James Preller said...

I have two problems: 1) I don't see the Wilpons spending that kind of money, it's just such a reversal from how they've gone about business; 2) I don't like Upton enough to give him the kind of huge contract he's going to want.

I do like him as a rental, however, but that price -- though reasonable -- feels to high from a Mets perspective.

I also wonder how attached SA might be to Nimmo, his first pick with the Mets.

I'd pass on Upton, personally. I'd try Parra and bring up Conforto to address outfield & bench. For the infield, I don't know.

Stephen Guilbert said...

I like Parra. But I doubt he's really available and, if so, at what cost? They've supposedly played hard ball with Sandy quite a bit in the past (like demanding Thor for Didi)

Reese Kaplan said...

Parra is with the Brewers. The Diamondbacks had asked the moon for Gregorius.

I like Parra as a leadoff/Lagares temporary replacement but the team needs a run producer. If they won't pay for one then promoting Conforto may be the way to go.

Stubby said...

FWIW, I've never been a Justin Upton fan. He's another .250 hitter who strikes out a lot, albeit with legit power and speed. Everyone has always expected more of him "because he's still young". But he's reached the supposed "peak" age of 27 and he's still under performing his talent level.

All that said, the Mets need a bat. I know this, you know this, Sandy knows this. I don't think San Diego would take less than Thor or Matz and I don't think Sandy is looking for another outfielder. But, if you could get Upton for Fullmer and Nimmo (and, mind you, I don't think you can), I'd do that deal. I'd kick in another prospect from AA and take back another prospect from the Single-A level, just to give everybody an out if the names don't pan out. But I'd do that deal. Even if its just a rental and you can't resign him. I do that, even as a rental, even if (as I suspect) Upton comes to New York, catches Mets hitter disease, and sucks canal water the rest of the season. I do that because the Mets are at a point where you have to do something just to prove you're willing to do something. Its good for the psyche of the ballclub and the psyche of the fans. And Fullmer and Nimmo is not too high a price (in my estimation) to "do something".

I'll say again I do not think the Mets are looking for outfielders, nor do I feel Parra (nor Braun, for that matter) are truly available. Upton is available. I roll the dice.

bob gregory said...

Honestly, the pattern is repeating itself again.
Alderson's front office has mastered the ability to lock itself down. No information leaks. Ever. Unless the front office wants it to leak.
The majority, if not all, the times information has "leaked" it's always this type of conflicting message. "The Mets will be........." or the Mets will not be......"
Always both sides of the same issue.
I am sure many of these situations are actually the result of information starved press members , bloggers, and fans seeing what they want in silence or vague responses from the front office.
A common denominator does appear though. Many times these "Mets are interested in..." leaks occur as the fan-base and press provide pressure for the Mets to make improvements.
I guess it could be the result of desperate and starved hopefulness by the fans and press.
Another option could be misdirection and skillfully planned temporary appeasement by this front office that has proven how well it controls any and all information.

So, Gomez, Braun, Upton, whoever the rumor of the day is......
I'll believe it after I watch the player's 1st at bat in a Met uniform.

Bob Sugar said...

Nimmo and Fullmer is too much for a rental that likely won't get the Mets the playoff spot we desperately need. Upton underperforms in Atlanta and San Diego- mild mannered baseball towns. What happens when he hits the pressure of NY. No way for me on that deal.

Don't sign Duda to an extension.

Adam Smith said...

I wouldn't give up two top 100 prospects for 2.5 months of Justin Upton, and I wouldn't saddle this organization (which only has so much financial flexibility) with the contract that he's going to want to sign. He's not as good as people think he should be, and I have no faith that he'll get better at 28 years old once he signs for 5 years and $90mm. There's only two ways to go here... give up one of the four for a cornerstone bat (which I don't think you can do until the offseason, even if you wanted to do it, and which I'm not sure I do) or upgrade marginally now, hope that d'Arnaud comes back, and stays back soon, and take your chances, knowing that win or lose you're really a year away from being an actual contender. I think there's a trade to be made in the offseason for a SS, and a bat coming in Conforto. And a big bat in TDA, though I would hope that by spring training, '16, he's getting lots of time 3B and/or LF.

Anonymous said...

For the guys who wouldn't trade Nimmo/Fulmer for Upton. If you knew it brought us our first championship in 29 years would you change your mind ?

Buddy3 said...

Sandy 's ego requires that he has to win every trade. Knowing that he has2016 money committed to Granderson and Cuddyer there is no why he overlays foe two months of Upton. He needs a cheaper replacement for Lagares and someone who can spell Cuddyer down the stretch.

I believe he focuses on Zobrist for infield depth and Parra, with the later being an easier and cheaper fit. I can see them trading a Meisner or Gsellman for either with a secondary prospect, but no way Sandy trades the jewels unless it is for a multi year vat at a position of need.

Like it or not they will not get a bat and put Cuddyer on the bench down the stretch or Grandy next year.

Mack's Mets © 2012