Sep 19, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton (8) hits a single against the New York Mets in the fourth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Upton is in the prime of his career. What that means is his value and usefulness will never be any higher than say the next three to five years. He is the proverbial five tool talent who is currently in the peak of his playing career.
His price tag was not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Max Fried was the Padres #1 draft pick in 2012 draft, the seventh pick overall. He is currently on rehab for Tommy John surgery, but at his age (21) he can easily come back from such a setback.
Mallex Smith, a speedy centerfielder hadn’t progressed passed high A ball but has very impressive numbers. Stealing 88, 88 and 64 bases the past three seasons. He is also only 21-years old.
The Peterson duo are also decent mid talent prospects. Dustin Peterson is a 20-year old third baseman prospect. Jace Peterson is a infielder who got in 27 games for the Padres last season. He provides the Braves with organizational depth.
Along with Upton comes Adam Northcraft who brings us another young quality arm in the minors, or potentially in the back end of the bullpen. He is 24-years old and has yet to make it all the way to Major Leagues. He has spent six years in the minors and sports a 3.91 era in 639 innings. Another Balsey project could pay big dividends here.
Justin Upton brings to San Diego a career .274 average with 164 homeruns. He has been in the Major League for eight years, when he started with the Arizona Diamondbacks at the age of 19. In 2011 while playing for the Diamondbacks, Upton crushed 31 homeruns and hit .289 with a .369 on base percentage. Last year he hit .270 with 29 homeruns and 102 runs batted in.
In my opinion his best years are in front of him. He has played in at least 149 games for four straight years, so you can count on him being in the lineup day after day. He is an All-Star caliber player in the prime of his career. The negative is, he might just be a one year rental.
Upton’s contract expires at the end of the year. He is likely to command in the excess of 100 million dollars on the open market. He will get that money from someone, question is will the Padres invest that much in him. That might be a bit much to ask, having Matt Kemp’s contract for the next five years already on the books.
If the Padres keep Upton the whole year and offer him a contract, but he decides to leave then they are entitled to a compensatory pick. He would be a Type A free agent allowing the Padres to get a first round pick out of the potential loss of Upton.
Hopefully there is a way to keep Justin Upton, but I believe the writing is clearly on the wall. He is looking like a one year rental at the cost of four young prospects. Anything can happen in this sport we love called baseball so stay tuned folks. Its going to be a fun summer.