History gives perspective – and when the Padres first acquired Melvin Upton Jr.nearly two years ago I was ready to ditch him as soon as they got him. However, now that he was having a good year, the Padres absolutely undersold him and will be paying WAY too much to him over the next 15 months.
The Padres of course traded Upton Jr Tuesday for a pitching prospect – but the kicker to me is that they will still be paying $13M of the remaining $18M on his contract! If he was performing at a Carlos Quentin level I could understand this – but he wasn’t at all.
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Upton Jr came to the Padres with a fresh start, even a new name – going to his birth name of Melvin instead of B.J.. It seemed to work. Last year he was an expensive fourth outfielder but this year after the Padres let his brother Justin walk in free agency (best move ever!) Upton Jr was given the full time left field job, then played center when Jon Jay got hurt – and was outstanding.
He robbed three home runs by my count, led the team in stolen bases, and even provided several of the top moments of the season with walk off home runs over the Giants and Dodgers. He even stole home with a great slide. The Padres couldn’t get the Blue Jays to pay more for him?
What is more confounding that he had another year on his contract so the urgency wasn’t to get him gone this year – especially when we found out just how much cash the Padres were willing to give the Blue Jays. It isn’t like $5M will do much to clear up space to sign another impact player – as the team certainly needs pitching help.
Yes – it does clear up a spot in the future for Manuel Margot or Hunter Renfroe – though Alex Dickerson is doing all in his power to make his own push for a starting outfield spot. The future however is clearly in the above pair and Travis Jankowski is showing his speed as well as an asset for the Padres future. If only they allowed four outfielders to play all the time, the Padres would be in a good spot.
To this point General Manager A.J. Preller has been kindly rewarded by most of his trades and non-trades with Justin Upton the prime example there. This one though seems like more of a fleecing than the trade that sent Drew Pomeranz to the Red Sox – but time of course will tell.
What is also interesting is that Upton Jr himself will lose playing time in Toronto, now back to more of a role player 4th outfielder than a starting outfielder with a crowded and powerful Blue Jays outfield. The upside side is that he does join a team fighting to make the playoffs rather than a Padres team looking at 2018 as the next viable playoff year.
One funny tidbit was that Upton Jr had to go through customs again. As a visiting Padres player he went through customs as a visitor, as a member of the Blue Jays he had to go through with a work visa. Hope the wait wasn’t long. Who reimburses his travel at that point? Hopefully the Blue Jays, but based on the rest of the negotiations I wouldn’t be suprised if the Blue Jays sent one more bill down to 100 Park Blvd.