It’s difficult to imagine the Diamondbacks parting with Justin Upton after the season he had in 2011. Yet,
according to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, that’s exactly what could happen if the DBacks fall out of contention. With two Wild Card spots, it’s difficult to define a “fall out of contention,” but Morosi says sources have told him Arizona would be willing to listen to offers for Upton if that happens.
Last year, Upton hit .289/.369/.529 with 31 home runs. This year, he got off to a slow starts and is hitting just .267/.350/.384. He’s also only hit 7 home runs so far this season. However, his career numbers would indicate this season is a fluke. In six seasons including this one, Upton is a .276/.356/.475 hitter. He averages over 20 home runs per season. Oh, and he’s only 24 years old.
Upton is making just $6.75 million this year. His highest yearly total will be in 2015 when he makes $14.5 million. Trading one of the main building blocks of their team may not make sense, but if the Diamondbacks were to trade Upton, it would be so that they could sell high. It would out of fear that he may continue his drop-off in production.
That seems unlikely though. Upton is striking out more than he has since the 2007 season. He’s taking fewer walks than he has since the 2007 season. Part of the problem is an hesitance at the plate. Upton is swinging at less pitches (43.9% this year compared to 48.2% last year). He is hitting more ground balls when he makes contact (45.2% compared to 36.9% in 2011). And he is making contact with pitches in the zone less (83.7% this year compared to 86.2% last year). All this points not toward over aggression at the plate, but perhaps a lack of aggression.
The numbers also indicate a high probability that Upton will pull out of this funk at some point. If he does not do so this year, he will likely improve next year. Trading Upton would be a move born from panic, but if the DBacks could get an incredible haul in return, it may be a viable option.
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