Justin Upton and the Arizona Diamondbacks have reached the point of no return. Eventually undying trade rumors cause an irreversible rift between the two parties, and this situation has reached that point.
According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Arizona is still shopping its prized right-fielder:
Ken Kendrick, the team's managing general partner, told a Phoenix radio station in October that Upton was "highly likely" to return.
Major-league sources, however, say the team is again engaged in active discussions about Upton, and one estimates the chances of him playing elsewhere next season are "80-20."
Given that "The Diamondbacks discussed moving Upton at the 2010 general managers' meetings and also before the July 31 non-waiver deadline last season," this situation has gone far enough.
Because Upton is signed through 2015, there's still enough room left on his contract to draw another team into a huge return package. As a 25-year-old, legitimate 30-30 candidate, someone will pay dearly to acquire him. It hasn't happened yet, but good things come to those who wait. But you've also heard that you'd better do your business or get off the pot, so there's a fine line between patience and foolishness.
Last season, Upton's production dropped. He hit .280 as compared to .289 in 2011, 17 home runs as compared to 31 and knocked in 67 RBI compared to 88. He seemed unfocused at times, and there's no reason to believe that the incessant trade rumors didn't have a little bit to do with that.
On top of that, the D'Backs have reinforcements. Adam Eaton is a prized prospect, and he appears ready to play everyday after batting .381 in Triple-A this season. He doesn't provide Upton's power, but he's a high-contact hitter with 40-plus stolen base potential.
Upton is going to become a real headache sooner or later. Rather than deal with it themselves, the Diamondbacks must cash in. He would bring back a sizable return, and Arizona would still have a young core to build around.
Teams don't need distractions, and that's what Upton has become. He didn't necessarily ask for it, but his status is the hottest story surrounding the franchise. That won't change until he's traded.
Selling high is a risky idea, especially with a talented player, but it makes sense here. Arizona has other needs to address, and he's the team's best way of doing so.