Former Padres Slugger Justin Upton Signs with Tigers


A couple of days after Ian Kennedy signed with the Kansas City Royals, the other qualifying offer the Padres posted that was subsequently declined signed with Detroit on Monday. Justin Upton agreed to a six year, $132.75M deal as first reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today and switches to the American League for the first time in his career.

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Of the three main outfielder free agents who were on the market in 2016(Alex Gordon and Upton being the other two), now only Yoenis Cespedes remains unsigned. When the Padres acquired Upton, they knew the likelihood of him being a one year rental was very likely – of course at the time they were hoping that one year was all it would take to bring a championship to San Diego.

Upton had a good season statistically in San Diego, even making the All Star team for just the third time in his career. He ended the season with a .251 average (career year at .271). For the fourth time in five years he hit over 25 home runs and at just 28 years old it made him a prime candidate for a long-term contract.

The Tigers ironically signed Cespedes last year before trading him to the New York Mets. Now it appears that they will Upton alongside Miguel Cabrera for at least a few years. Though in today’s Hot Stove culture, even long term contracts aren’t immune to being traded a year or two in.

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With Upton and Kennedy signing with other teams, the Padres save their extra draft picks earned by the two rejecting their qualifying offers, which could work out well for the club down the toad. However, many critics pointed out that the Padres might have been able to get even better prospects if they had traded Upton to a contender at the trade deadline during the season than just ending up one draft pick by keeping him on a team that never really flashed signs that they could make a run to chase the Dodgers in the NL West.

Meanwhile the Padres are still looking for a left fielder of their own.