Justin Upton is as good a bet as any to become a superstar. Moshe already went over how good Upton could potentially be. There are enough rumors floating around right now to make his trade at least a theoretical possibility. I would like to offer three deals that I would do for Upton, that I think the diamond backs would accept.
First, I think I understand what Kevin Towers is thinking. The Diamondbacks have, put simply, a terrible farm system. They lost a lot in the Dan Haren trade, and haven’t been especially good on draft day. Their best prospect Jarrod Parker went down with an arm injury, and it remains to be seen if he recovers. Beyond him, there isn’t a lot to write home about.
Besides Upton, their MLB team doesn’t have a lot of really bright spots. Stephen Drew, Miguel Montero, Chris Young, Kelly Johnson (for now, at least), and Mark Reynolds form a solid little hitting core, but aren’t anything special. Justin Upton is the lone standout hitter in their organization. Things are worse on the pitching side – Ian Kennedy had a great season, but no one else did. Joe Saunders doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. They are now without Dan Haren and Brandon Webb without any real replacements for their production.
Arizona needs pitching, but they also need upgrades across the board in their lineup. Specifically, they’ll need someone at 2b (after Johnson leaves), the outfield corners, and possibly 1st base. I don’t think that Towers is expecting his team to go into full-out rebuilding mode – if he does, the Yankees should seriously be interested in Stephen Drew – but rather I think they view Justin Upton as someone who might be slightly overvalued to the rest of the league relative to his value to the Diamondbacks. He could get a lot of important pieces for the young star, save some payroll room, and probably increase his team’s chance of winning.
The Yankees, on the other hand, should actually value a player like Upton over some other types of players. First, they have a lot of prospects with blocked positions (Laird, Adams, theoretically Montero or Romine, plus guys like Phelps and D.J. Mitchell) in the high minors who could be valuable to the Diamondbacks. Second, the nature of their huge payroll and aging roster puts a premium on young stars like Upton. So, here are three deals that I think could happen:
To the Yankees: Justin Upton. To the Diamondbacks: Jesus Montero, Brett Gardner, David Adams, David Phelps
Make no mistake, Brett Gardner has a ton of value. So does Jesus Montero. They are the blue-chip centerpieces for this deal, and should both immediately improve the Diamondbacks. Brett Gardner provides solid production in one of the now-vacated Arizona corner outfield positions for much less money than Justin Upton. The Diamondbacks would probably look at Montero as a 1st baseman. David Adams gives them a Kelly Johnson replacement, David Phelps should make their team as a starting pitcher.
To the Yankees: Justin Upton. To the Diamondbacks: Brett Gardner, Manuel Banuelos, Joba Chamberlain, David Adams, Hector Noesi
Here, the Yankees want to hold on to Montero. He is set to play an important role on their 2011 team, and no obvious candidates exist to replace his production. Brett Gardner again serves as the major center piece, but the other players are sweetened a bit to replace Jesus. Banuelos is the best of the Killer B’s, and Kevin Towers knows it. He also knows just how underrated both David Adams and especially Hector Noesi are, thanks to his experience in the Yankee organization. Joba Chamberlain is a change of scenery candidate, and could very well join Ian Kennedy in the Dbacks rotation.
To the Yankees: Justin Upton, Kelly Johnson. To the Diamondbacks: Jesus Montero, Joba Chamberlain, David Adams, David Phelps, Ivan Nova
The Diamondbacks decline interest in Brett Gardner. Presumably, the Yankees would trade one of their three outfielders at some point in the future, or DH Nick Swisher. The Yankees hand the Dbacks their prized prospect, two MLB-ready pitchers, plus Adams and Chamberlain. The alternate scenario here involves a three-team trade where Gardner goes somewhere else, and the Yankees contribute only Montero to Arizona.
Obviously, this is just an intellectual exercise, but following it I’m reasonably confident that the Yankees can endure the prospect loss associated with this kind of a big trade. In fact, I think they could probably throw in a little more if necessary. But Jesus and Gardner are strong trade chips, and the Yankees can endure losses to the upper level farm system all over the place. Names like Adam Warren and Brandon Laird are also substitutable for Adams, Nova, and Phelps.
The Yankees should try their best to go out and get Upton. What would you guys offer the Dbacks?
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