Something interesting happened earlier today at Arizona's Chase Field. Used to be that some of the right-field stands were referred to as "Uptown", in honor of Justin Upton. There were official signs and everything, as Upton was thought of as a blossoming superstar. Earlier Thursday, those signs started coming down. Apparently, this was something everyone agreed to after the end of the regular season, but the timing was of interest. This news came out well in advance of the news that Upton rejected a trade to the Mariners.
Upton rejected a trade to the Mariners! The Seattle Mariners tried to trade for Justin Upton, and he didn't like it! That was the first thing we knew, and it followed that the Mariners and Diamondbacks had agreed to the terms of a deal. The names were in place, and once the names were in place, the Diamondbacks went to Upton, and he gave his answer. What everybody wanted to know after that were the prospects' identities. What did the Mariners and Diamondbacks actually agree to? It didn't seem like we would ever find out, until we found out, mostly.
The deal would have sent three or four players back to Arizona, according to CBSSports.com sources. Included among those players would have been relievers Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor, minor-league shortstop Nick Franklin and, likely, one of three minor-league starting pitching prospects: Right-hander Taijuan Walker, lefty James Paxton or lefty Danny Hultzen.
For confirmation and a little more clarity:
Opined an anonymous man, or woman, or phantom:
Maybe you had it in your head that Jack Zduriencik could work some magic and land Upton at a bargain. I don't know how you happen to rate the Mariners' prospects, but to me, that sure as shit isn't a bargain up there. Granted, the identity of the top pitching prospect makes a difference, since Walker isn't Hultzen isn't Paxton, but that's a hefty package of talent for a guy coming off a park-aided .785 OPS. Which isn't to say that I think the Mariners would've been getting slaughtered, but you have to understand that the Mariners would've been trading potential production for potential production. In a way, Upton's a highly-talented prospect, in that it's unclear what he's going to be going forward, and how consistently the tools are going to all work together.
Remember that the Diamondbacks were targeting Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar from the Rangers, before they got themselves Didi Gregorius. The Diamondbacks have been looking to score big, obviously, and with this package, they would've scored pretty big, if short of getting an Andrus or Profar. It's always risky to acquire a pitching prospect as a centerpiece, but Nick Franklin isn't a bad second chip, and Charlie Furbush is proven while Stephen Pryor isn't far from proven.
I'm not comfortable evaluating the trade, what with the prospect uncertainty. Whether it was Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, or James Paxton makes a difference. Maybe we'll find out later, if talks are revived and Upton changes his mind. My sense is that the package is more or less fair on paper, even though it's difficult to imagine the Mariners losing so much from the system; none of the starting prospects have achieved above double-A, Franklin's a non-shortstop, and Furbush and Pryor are relievers. One question is whether the deal is fair on paper. Another question is whether the Mariners are in position to swing such a deal, even if it's fair on paper. The Mariners would have to very strongly believe that Justin Upton is going to bounce back. They can't know that, no matter how much inside information they might have. If Upton's current employer were super confident, it probably wouldn't be trying to desperately to trade him.
I am not a prospect expert, I am not a prospect valuation expert, and I am one person. I'm curious to monitor the results of the poll below, because I know you're all going to have your own opinions on this. The Mariners nearly traded four young players for Justin Upton. The Mariners could still, in theory, trade the same four young players for Justin Upton. Upton's going to go somewhere, and now the other teams have a better idea of his price. If they don't want to meet it, the Mariners could re-emerge.
It sure is going to be interesting to see how people criticize Jack Zduriencik from this point forward. Although, in fairness, it's always interesting to see how people behave. We're all living, breathing experiments!