MLB Trade Rumors: Power Ranking Best Fits for Justin Upton

Ethan Grant@DowntownEGAnalyst IJanuary 10, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 03:  Outfielder Justin Upton #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up before the MLB game against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field on October 3, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Justin Upton has been the hottest trade name since the conclusion of the 2012 MLB season and well into the winter meetings.

But as we've seen with guys like Nate McLouth and even Michael Bourn to an extent, trades are no more a sure thing than putting a fan on the mound for the first pitch of a ballgame.

When it comes to Upton, it appears the trade winds are blowing heavier than ever for a guy that, at age 25, has the potential to be a 30-30 guy for the foreseeable future.

There are always good fits and bad fits for players, and when it comes to Upton, that's no exception. From the Texas Rangers to Seattle Mariners, there are plenty of good franchises interested in adding a guy that has the potential to be an all-around stud in the near future.

Here's a look at the best fits for Upton, in reverse order based on which team would make the most sense for both the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Upton's chances to come in and dominate.


5. New York Mets

The Mets have been linked with the D'Backs in recent weeks, but they have neither the assets nor the track record to pull off a deal like this.

According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Mets checked in on both Upton and Jason Kubel, another popular name in trade talks this offseason, but to no avail.

#mets talked to AZ about upton/kubel. prospect/player price 2 high on @jus10up10, kubel not perfect fit.

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 7, 2013

The Mets need to focus on rebuilding from within. As enticing as Upton is as both a young prospect and a star, this isn't the type of deal New York needs to be involved with.


4. Atlanta Braves

Per this Fox Sports report by Ken Rosenthal, the Braves have also checked in on Upton, since they appear set to part ways with Bourn after signing Upton's brother B.J. to a lucrative contract to roam center at Turner Field.  

While a dream scenario on paper, the Braves have plenty of current talent with Jason Heyward, Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman, and you could make the argument that signing Upton helps stop Heyward's progress, unless you advocate a position change for one of the guys.

I don't think Atlanta has the kind of patience or true intention to get involved with the Diamondbacks on this trade. For that reason, I don't see them as true players both for prospects' sake and as a good fit for Upton.


3. San Diego Padres

The main piece in San Diego's puzzle for Upton has been Chase Headley, the 28-year-old who finished fifth in NL MVP voting this season (as reported in Rosenthal's earlier article). Trading for Upton would risk losing Headley's 100-plus RBI in the lineup.

Are the Padres willing to take that risk after a rough 2012?

Aside from Headley, this team is somewhat devoid of elite talent, at least from a position player standpoint, and needs to work at rebuilding around what's in place. Even better, Headley could command much higher prospect value than just Upton straight up on the open market.

I like the idea from the Padres, and you have to give up talent to get talent in return, but the idea of getting rid of Headley to get Upton is a very risky move, given their current state. However, there also isn't much to lose—don't be surprised if the Padres fight for a guy they've clearly shown interest in.


2. Seattle Mariners

Seattle is also becoming a major player in the Upton sweepstakes, but the only reason the Mariners aren't ranked higher is because they are on Upton's no-trade list. As reported by ESPN's Buster Olney, the Mariners are in good position, but they are going to struggle to close a deal.

The Diamondbacks have felt they have a good potential trade match with Seattle for Justin Upton. But remember: They're on his no-trade list.

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 7, 2013

With that information hanging over the Mariners' head, they need to pony up some more money or offer Upton a reason to waive his clause. Last year's record won't fall in that category, and playing in a pitcher-friendly ballpark won't either.

Seattle would be interesting with a true power hitter with speed in the middle of that lineup. With Franklin Guiterrez, Mike Carp and Dustin Ackley already in place, pairing Upton with Justin Smoak would have the makings of a quality lineup. But looking at the other teams on this list, there isn't much reason for Upton to waive a no-trade clause—hence Seattle sitting at No. 2.


1. Texas Rangers

From the start, it appeared the Rangers were the favorites to add Upton, and for good reason. The team needs a legitimate power threat after losing three guys that added major production during this team's three-year playoff run.

Not only is he a fit in Arlington, but the Rangers have Elvis Andrus, Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, Martin Perez, Justin Grimm and other prospects to dangle in front of the D'Backs until they bite. 

Trading for Upton would give the Rangers both long-term and short-term flexibility. As a replacement for Nelson Cruz, Upton fits in a couple of seasons. As a replacement for Josh Hamilton (at least a portion of one), he fits, too.

With the D'Backs opening up space for other players and getting back at least two elite players in the process, the Rangers are always the No. 1 spot for Upton to land. We'll see if the two sides can get a deal done soon—there are plenty of other teams waiting to pounce if the Rangers or D'Backs back away from each other.


Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team. Check him out on Twitter.


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