The Detroit Tigers traded hot-hitting Justin Upton to the Los Angeles Angels in 2017. That said, will that deal eventually haunt the navy and orange?
When you find yourself, as a ball-club, trending towards finishing at the very bottom of your league, there’s nothing better to do than sell-high on the players who are exceeding on your roster. Needless to say, that’s exactly what the Detroit Tigers opted to do with left-fielder Justin Upton at the end of August.
However, even though that deal may have seemed like a good option at the time, I believe the Tigers will eventually be haunted by that mistake.
While with Detroit in 2017, Upton hit 28 home-runs, had 94 runs-batted-in and finished with a .279 batting average before getting shipped off to the west coast – courtesy of MLB Stats. Not only was did he, arguably, have the best season for any Tigers hitter, but he was easily about to surpass his best year since 2011.
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Unfortunately for Upton, over his eleven years in the big-leagues, he’s turned into the player teams trade for at the deadline. Meaning, other than in Arizona, he’s never had the chance to plant roots in an organization.
Call me crazy, but Upton has performed better on teams where he has been able to become one of the stable pieces of the organization. This was exactly the case for the former 1st overall draft pick in Arizona, Atlanta and Detroit.
That said, for a Tigers ball-club that’s looking to get back to playing postseason baseball, trading the veteran power-hitter was a major mistake. Now the team will look towards a younger option, with better upside moving forward. Needless to say, that’s an enticing option, but can also take a ton of time.
While the Tigers will admire Upton’s hitting from afar in 2017, eventually this deal will come back to haunt them. This roster still has enough power-hitters in their lineup to make some noise in 2018, but what happens when they finally start playing great baseball again three or four years down the road?
Sure – it’s reasonable to think Upton won’t be playing at this level in 2021, but it’s definitely not a guarantee.
In a division where Detroit is easily becoming the bottom-feeders of the bunch, their time to try and rebuild is being cut awfully short. That said, it would sure be a shame to see the veteran end up in the Central with another team.