Would Justin Upton be a good fit for the Indians?
This past week in Major League Baseball we have seen some big signings with Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez and Adam LaRoche going to new teams. Heck, we have even heard the rumors of the Tribe’s interest in Chase Headley, well that is, until they realized they cannot outbid the Yankees or other teams for his services.
Morales is now a 31-year old, switch-hitting designated hitter who is a liability in the field and is also an injury risk. Sound familiar? Did I just describe Morales or Nick Swisher or both? There is only room for one, so for now, just pass on Morales. Denorfia is a 34-year old fourth outfielder who the Tribe could use in a platoon with David Murphy. Denorfia is only a slight upgrade over Ryan Raburn.
For some reason the Indians insist on using back-up outfielders as regulars. Whether it is the current players of Murphy, Raburn and possibly Denorfia or the past years of Jason Michaels and David Dellucci to name a couple, this maddening platoon idea needs to cease.
Which brings me to my idea.
There is a simple solution to some of the Indians offensive woes. It is time to go get a right-handed slugger who can hit behind Michael Brantley in the cleanup spot and ahead of Carlos Santana. I believe that guy is Justin Upton of the Atlanta Braves.
I believe Upton is a better fit for the Tribe than Nelson Cruz, Yoenis Cespedes or Matt Kemp. Cruz and Kemp both will have multi-years at many millions more than Cleveland can afford to tie up, so those two are really an afterthought just for that reason. Not to mention the Indians would lose a first round pick to sin Cruz.
Cespedes, like Upton, is in the final year of his contract that will pay him $10.5 million in 2015 and it is not a foregone conclusion that the Red Sox will trade him away. Also, Cespedes is now represented by Jay Z’s Roc Nation, who other than possibly Scott Boras, may be the toughest with which to negotiate. Therefore, the chances of the Indians being able to sign him beyond 2015 seems very remote. He would be with the Indians one year and gone after that.
Justin Upton carries a larger price tag in 2015 at $14.5 million; however, although a very slim possibility, he is represented by Larry Reynolds and should be easier to negotiate a future contract. Also, the Braves are offering him for trade and are looking to add younger players for their future.
By the numbers, Upton has the edge over Cespedes due to better plate discipline, a slight bit more power and longevity. Cespedes has a career .263 batting average, .316 OBP, .780 OPS and an average 2.5 WAR. By contrast, Upton has a career .274 batting average, .354 OBP, .830 OPS and an average 3.3 WAR. Also, Upton is two years younger and profiles better in right field defensively.
Looking at a possible trade involving Upton you have to consider the Indians current financial situation, the Braves current financial situation and what the Braves may want in return. This is where it gets tough to complete a deal. Trading Michael Bourn and a couple of young players to them is not going to get it done. The Braves are trying to get out from under big contracts, not take another one on especially with more years added on.
To do a straight up deal with the Braves would likely mean that Murphy and his expiring contract would head to Atlanta. It is also possible that Mike Aviles would be part of a package, giving the Braves some insurance at second base if their young phenom Jose Peraza is not quite ready for The Show. But it would probably also take a young arm along with one of the Indians best young outfielders to complete a deal.
The Braves want pitching, something the Indians have a lot of, though may not be able to afford to give up – especially for potentially a one year rental. They do have a plethora of young outfielders. If the Indians were to find a match in a trade for Upton and the Braves took on Murphy and Aviles, then the Indians would be on the hook for roughly $5-6 million extra salary.
There is always the possibility of adding a third team, like the Blue Jays, who could use a centerfielder like Bourn. There would be quite a few moving pieces in a situation like that, but if all three teams are willing participants, a deal could be consummated that would work for everyone.
Regardless of how it gets done, it is time for the Indians front office to step up and get aggressive. As they see the team and as the fans see the team, the Indians are capable of making the playoffs. But are they going to be able to advance and win the World Series with their current lineup?
Frankly, I'm tired of the platoon system. It counts on two players to produce, and remain healthy. Both players obviously have warts or they wouldn't be stuck in a platoon system to begin with. I've see it fail too often.
One name I'll throw out, I haven't heard yet in RF... Nick Markakis. I suspect he could sign something similar to Chase Headley. I think he could get 4/$56 or as little as 3/$39. Markakis would be another LH bat but hits RH .291, and LH .288 at his career clip. Essentially, he hits LH and RH pitching equally. I would prefer Headley at 3b over Markakis, however, Alex Rios seems to be the right fit. His power lagged last yr, but he dealt with a wrist injury that nagged him. Rios still has some pop and good speed and should fit the Tribes budget better, plus he bats RH and would likely sign a shorter term deal.
I know the Indians supposedly don't have the resources, but, I'm not fully buying that. What I mean, I think next yr it would be easier to trade Bourn or Swisher....when they have one yr remaining IF they are healthy and produce at least on the same level as last yr. The Indians will also have a number of options, like trading Chisenhall (read: Urshela / Gonzalez at 3b), Scrabble, Tomlin, and Shaw as they get more expensive.
Chip, I agree on your comments on the pitching. All I am saying that bringing in another starter for depth would be a prudent thing to do. And with Callaway working his magic, he might turn in to something better.
If they want a RH hitting OF that fits, then Alex Rios is the guy. Rios could sign somewhere in the $8-$10M range (my guess). Rios would possibly only require a 2yr deal, but might press for a third season afterall he's a Boras client.
The Astros want bullpen help, and they have OF depth. A couple of young guys that could be intriguing (outside of George Springer) are Jake Marisnick and Robbie Grossman, both can play any of the OF spots (I prefer Marisnick). The Astros also have Domingo Santana, Alex Pressley, Marc Krauss, LJ Hoes, and Dexter Fowler and 4-5 more qlty OF prospects (DeShields, Hernandez, Fisher, Tucker). Fowler is generating some trade interest, but the Astros are reportedly leery of trading him bc of his relationship with Springer. A cpl other interesting younger RF possibilities (outside of the Astros) would be Michael Taylor, Steven Souza, Cesar Puello, and Kyle Parker.
I think offering Bryan Shaw for Jake Marisnick might get their attention. It probably would take another prospect to get the deal done. Marisnick would speed, defense, a RH bat, some (limited) pop, and multiple yrs of control (cheap).
The Indians could back fill Shaw's spot by adding an arm like KRod or Luke Gregorson. I think KRod might sign for something like 2/$14M with an option and Gregorson something like 2/$10M with an option. It's easy to forget that the Indians were reportedly in on Fernando Rodney and Joaquin Benoit (after signing Axford) and they may have exceeded $90M in payroll. I suspect they may bargain shop again with the intent to add a cpl value (undervalue) signings.
IF the Indians did sign Kendrys Morales would that mean the end of Ryan Raburn's career in Cleveland?
I would rather see them spend cash (and lose some financial flexibility) and lock up someone like Chase Headley for 3/$39 (w/option 4/$52) or 4/$48. I get the Indians can't afford Headley, but I think he gets less than some are suggesting ($60M). Remember there was lots of speculation Yasmany Tomas would get $100M. I think all the hype helped him get the $68.5M he got.
I think the Tribe could move Bourn if they are willing to add something of value (either a qlty prospect or cash). That would allow them financial flexibility to make such a move. I get the Tribe wants to maintain financial flexibility going into the future, and they have prospects near ready but near ready prospects are not going to push this club into WS contention like a qlty veteran add.
When you think you have enough pitching - get more pitching.
There is no way in hell we should reduce our strength. Throw in MacAllister in the pen - and the staff is a rock to build on.
With that being said, I do not see Upton as a good fit due to his pending free agency. It would be too much to sacrifice for to little in return. If he had 2-3 years remaining then he would be worth a large haul from the Indians, but that's not the case here. It is aggravating to see other teams in the Central improving while the Indians stand pat, but they have little room to work with do to cumbersome contracts.
Can we not find an Chiz equivalent that is right handed with a team that needs a left hander?
but the followup question has to be, why would the indians trade a young, cost- and time-controlled starting pitcher for one year of justin upton? answer is, they wouldn't.
Like the idea, however I believe this is all a moo point as the Indians are one of the teams on Upton's no trade list. He blocked the mariners deal a couple years ago so no reason why he wouldn't do the same to us.