Justin Upton was supposed to be the big impact bat the San Diego Padres needed to push them over the hump and finally make a playoff push. For the first time since Adrian Gonzalez left town the Padres finally had a big impact bat in the clean up spot that other teams would fear. Obviously this season hasn’t gone the way the Padres had hoped for a variety of reasons. On top of that, Justin Upton has struggled mightily over the last two months and has negatively impacted his trade value.
Here we sit less than 48 hours until the trade deadline at 4EST on Friday and Justin Upton remains a San Diego Padre. It may be a hard pill to swallow for many Friar faithful and many in the Padres organization but the Padres absolutely must trade Justin Upton before Friday at 4 o’clock Eastern time.
Justin Upton is not going to resign with the Padres and the Padres should not want to sign him long term. Justin Upton is likely going to command a long term contract in the ballpark of 150 to 200 million dollars even with a poor showing over the last few months.
The Padres most likely cannot meet such a price and even if they could meet that they really shouldn’t want to. The Padres already have 75.35 million on the books for next year, 75.55 million on the books in 2017, and another 49.25 million in 2018 with most of that money going to the bloated contracts of Craig Kimbrel, James Shields, Melvin Upton, and Matt Kemp. If the Padres were to add Upton to those numbers that would most likely push their salary up to 90 million over the next few years with a vast majority of that money going to five players with many players arbitration eligible.
If the Padres do not trade Justin Upton they will be able to make a qualifying offer and will get a compensatory draft pick if he chooses to sign with another team. This is basically a pick at the end of the first round so it’s somewhere in the thirty to forty range depending on how many of these types of qualifying offers there are. Last year the Padres gave one of these to the Royals when they signed James Shields. This is definitely a decent compensation for a player leaving and is something the Padres must consider.
With that being said, the Padres should trade Justin Upton now for whatever return they can get. It seems likely that if the Padres trade Upton in the next forty-eight hours they will be able to get back a decent prospect or two in return. In years past pitchers have garnered the biggest return at the trade deadline, but it does not seem out of the realm of possibility that an Upton trade could garner the Padres a top 100 prospect as well as at least one other lower tiered prospect. Beyond that, if the Padres could package Upton with another position player or perhaps one of the Padres many available starters that return could be even bigger.
If the Padres hold onto Upton past the trade deadline it will be a big mistake. They will get a compensation pick if they fail to resign Upton and offer him a qualifying offer but next year they will draft a player who likely wont be ready to contribute in the big leagues until at least 2018 or 2019 at the earliest. If they do pull the trigger and trade Upton at the deadline, they can perhaps get a top 100 prospect who can be ready to contribute at the big league level as soon as next season. The Padres as an organization seem to want to compete now and in the near future so to accomplish that trading Justin Upton makes the most long term and short term sense not only in regards to payroll concerns but also in regards to prospect returns.