|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?