Padres Editorial: If Upton Keeps Hitting, He Can be Traded

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Credit: UT San Diego
Credit: UT San Diego

When the San Diego Padres acquired Melvin Upton Jr. on Easter Sunday the day before the teams 2015 season was to begin, he was viewed by many as baggage. The price of acquiring a talent like Craig Kimbrel was taking on Upton and his three-year guaranteed deal of about $46.3 million in total. Melvin had come off of two sub-par years in Atlanta and the team was eager to move his salary.

The Padres were able to move Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin in the deal to the Braves, saving them $24 million with the duo’s owed salary. Matt Wisler was also included in the deal to the Braves. The young right-handed pitcher was a highly touted prospect in the Padres organization. As of right now he is in the Braves rotation and looks to be a decent major league pitcher. The Padres attained a huge haul of prospects for Kimbrel in the Red Sox trade so the jury is still out on this deal. Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Logan Allen and Carlos Asuaje could easily sway this deal on the Padres side.

Melvin Upton Jr. started the 2015 season for the Padres on the disabled list. He had a foot issue and did not return to the team until early June. Melvin started off rotating in the outfield with Will Venable, but by the end of the year was in the lineup on most days. He had a very productive year despite all the talk that he was overpaid. Although Upton is making a hefty contract, his production has improved since joining the Padres and he is on his way to justifying his paycheck.

For the Padres in 2015 Upton had a batting line of .259/.327/.429 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 87 games and 205 at bats. He amassed a 1.6 WAR rating during that span and that was actually a very decent number. He played excellent defense and got timely hits for the team in 2015. Quietly he put up a respectable year and he has continued his quality play early in the 2016 season. Padres fans can only hope the trend continues upwards because in all reality the team needs to move on from Melvin Upton.

His hefty contract (two years remaining at $31.9 million) and the fact the Padres have several young outfielders (Travis Jankowski, Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot) ready to play make him an interesting case. His production is valuable to the team now, but the Padres have those other options. Renfroe, Jankowski and Margot are three possibilities in left in the near future, but the Padres also have Jabari Blash on the team now and even Alex Dickerson who can play the position.

Could the team really trade Upton? Would a team really value the outfielder enough to trade for him? That remains to be seen, but if he continues his offensive onslaught teams will at the very least consider a move for Upton. He could provide great defense and speed to the right team. However the Padres would probably have to pay some of the salary owed him for the next two seasons. The more the Padres pay, the better chance they have to move him. The prospects acquired in return will be of a better ilk if the Padres pay some of his salary. A deal could be done but it all depends on if Upton continues to hit.

It’s not out of the total realm of possibility for Upton to be moved. The Padres have to explore the option seriously at some point as the team has far too many options in the outfield. The problem is finding a potential trade partner. A key injury or sudden need for a contending team could make Upton an attractive option. Stay tuned as A.J. Preller is surely exploring all options. Moving Melvin Upton Jr. will be no easy task but the more he hits, the easier it gets to find a potential suitor.

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