Justin Upton: Mets Must Not Sacrifice Future to Acquire Talented Slugger

Shawn BrubakerContributor IIJanuary 11, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 02:  Justin Upton #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the Colorado Rockies during the MLB game at Chase Field on October 2, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Rockies 5-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The New York Mets have become the latest suitor in the Justin Upton sweepstakes, but they might not have the chips to pull off a blockbuster trade. Marc Carig of Newsday tweets that the Mets are interested in Upton, but are unlikely to give up their top prospects:

Sources say the Mets are again interested in trading for Justin Upton. But it's a longshot that they'll give up enough prospects for a deal.

— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) January 12, 2013

The prospect of acquiring a top talent like Upton must be tempting for the Mets, who desperately need another powerful yet efficient bat. After all, only three regulars in the lineup sported an average over .270, showing how inefficient this lineup really was. Further, only four Mets knocked double-digit home runs. 

Not only did the Mets struggle to hit for power, they struggled to hit for contact as well. Upton would help in both regards.

Unfortunately, a team like the Mets has little to offer outside of prospects, and even there, the Mets are thin. The one truly interesting prospect is Zack Wheeler, who was rated the No. 35 prospect before the 2012 season. Wheeler lived up to that billing, with an ERA of 3.26 and WHIP of 1.17 with two teams in 2012.

The Mets are right in wanting to hold on to Wheeler. He has the potential to grow into an outstanding pitcher, with a powerful fastball between 95 and 97 mph and a devastating curve. When he develops a bigger repertoire, Wheeler will truly be special.

As good as Upton is, keeping a special talent like Wheeler in the organization is more important. The acquisition of Upton would help the Mets, but it would not make the club a playoff contender. This is a team that should be building for a future around guys like David Wright, Ike Davis and Wheeler. 

If the Mets do manage to acquire Upton without giving up Wheeler, the club's front office will be worthy of major praise. Otherwise, though, the Mets should keep their best prospect, build for the future and try to turn this club into a perennial contender.

The way to do that is through a strong farm system, not blockbuster trade after blockbuster trade.