Despite frequent and ongoing speculation to the contrary, the Arizona Diamondbacks seem to be pretty confident that Justin Upton will still be a member of the organization when the 2013 season starts. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Arizona is still willing to listen to offers for their incumbent right fielder, but at this point an appropriate trading partner has not developed. The club is rumored to be looking for a young-but-established pitcher or shortstop in any deal that results in Upton’s departure.
Though he’s already spent more than five full seasons at the big league level, Upton is still just 25, and only one season removed from hitting .289/.369/.529. While he was still useful in 2012, contributing a .341 wOBA and 2.5 WAR on the year, his production took a definite step back from a very encouraging 2011. The talented number one overall pick in 2005 has started to make a habit out of alternating big seasons with merely decent ones, as he did the same thing in 2009-2010.
Upton is owed $9.75 million next year and will then earn over $14 million in 2014-2015, so it makes sense Arizona would be willing to wait for the right offer to come along at this point, while he’s still another year removed from his sharpest salary increase. If Upton rebounds, he’ll be a bargain in 2013 and possibly through the duration of his contract, but something seems clearly amiss between player and team here. It’s not often a player with this much talent at this young of an age is so frequently the topic of trade rumors.