The Toronto Blue Jays have added to their outfield by reportedly agreeing to trade for Melvin Upton Jr of the San Diego Padres.
The Toronto Blue Jays have dipped their toes into the Trade Deadline pool. It isn’t quite the splash of 2015, though. In fact, it is kind of a head scratcher. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Blue Jays have agreed to pick up Melvin Upton Jr.from the San Diego Padres for a Class A prospect.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 26, 2016
It looks like Upton Jr will switch dugouts for this current series in Toronto as the Padres are in town. When word of the Blue Jays being front runners for his services broke out last night, the fan reaction was of confusion. Some tried to see the logic of it, others downright dismissed it. From the beginning, we had a sense that the Blue Jays would be going after players with years of control remaining. Upton Jr is that. He is under contract for this season for the remainder of his $14.5M and next season for $16.5M.
Whether that price is high depends on your perspective. Upton Jr is 31 yrs old and having a fairly good season at the plate. In 92 games, he has 16 HR and 45 RBI to go with 20 stolen bases. He’s slashing .256/.304/.439 and putting up a wRC+ of 100. He’s been worth 1.5 WAR according to Fangraphs.com. Upton Jr is walking at a rate of just 6% and whiffing at 28%. His groundball rate has increased to the highest level since 2008 (46.2%). He’s not hitting the ball harder, but is seeing nearly 20% HR/FB. Defensively, as an outfielder, he’s been worth 8 DRS, which is good.
The issue for a lot of people is trying to figure out exactly where Upton Jr fits into the plans for the Blue Jays. With an All Star, Michael Saunders in LF, Superman, Kevin Pillar in CF and Jose Bautista clinging to RF, it would appear that Upton Jr is an expensive 4th outfielder. For that reason, it is hard to imagine they would have him riding the pine to allow Bautista to stay in OF. One would imagine, then, that Upton JR would slide to RF, Bautista would DH, Edwin Encarnacion would man first base and Justin Smoak would be the bench guy. OF course, as things go on, you could switch Edwin and Bautista and/or use Jose as your 4th outfielder/DH. This would likely give the club a better outfield and a more palatable bench bat in Smoak. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith has an idea how he’d be used:
Would expect #BlueJays to use Upton all over OF, rotating Saunders, Bautista through DH. Could mean more EE at 1B.
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) July 26, 2016
Of course, all of this seems a bit odd, given the amount of money committed to Upton Jr over the next year and a couple months. Given that the return is a “Class A” prospect, one would imagine that the Blue Jays will be taking on that salary, which would be surprising. But, when you consider what Shi Davidi adds, it mightn’t be such a bad deal:
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) July 26, 2016
Our good friend Doug, at Clutchlings provides an idea of what the return might be:
There are some good Class A arms in the system, but SRF is the only untouchable.
— Future Blue Jays (@FutureBlueJays) July 26, 2016
Sean Reid-Foley being untouchable is somewhat comforting, but there are still some good arms at that level. And, in order to be a one for one deal, it would have to be a player of value, even if the Blue Jays are taking on so much salary. In A+ Dunedin, Reid- Foley is joined by Jon Harris, Francisco Rios, Anthony Alford and Richard Urena. That is not to say that any of these guys are the ones going the other way, but we should be prepared, especially if San Diego is willing to pay a lot of Upton Jr’s salary. And, JFtC will update this as the details become available.
For now, we should probably sit back and let this one sink in. This Trade Deadline was not going to be one like last year. Instead, it was going to see moves that are meant as filler, maybe even extras that some of us could do without. Based on early reactions, the deal for Upton Jr is one that some could do without. Regardless, his bat will be an addition to the lineup, and depending on the return, could be an interesting investment in 2017.
The Blue Jays will send their No18 prospect, Hansel Rodriguez to the Padres.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 26, 2016
Rodriguez was 2-1 with the Bluefield Blue Jays this season with a 3.06 ERA in 6 starts. He’s a 19 yr old pitcher that would not have been on the minds of a lot of Blue Jays fans. With this being the price of obtaining Upton Jr, along with the Padres eating a lot of salary, we have to see this as a win for the Blue Jays.
*Featured Image Credit: Bart Hanlon UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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