The San Diego Padres acquired Justin Upton from the Atlanta Braves in December of 2015 for Max Fried, Dustin Peterson, Mallex Smith and Jace Peterson. Fried was the Padres former #1 pick (7th overall) in the 2012 draft. He is very highly touted but currently disabled after under going Tommy John surgery in 2014. The Braves also got Mallex Smith in the deal, who is an outfielder with elite speed. Smith stole 88 bases last year in the minors for the Padres.
The Petersons’ are mid level prospects, but could be serviceable. In fact Jace Peterson started the year on the Braves 25 man roster. Dustin Peterson is currently in high A ball for the Braves. The prospects traded for Upton were decent. Smith and Fried will eventually make their mark in the majors. We will just have to wait a couple of seasons before we truly know how good they will be. Sometimes you have to make a move like this, and A.J. Preller did it at the perfect time.
Justin Upton was the final piece to the outfield trio of Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and himself. The addition of him to the lineup gave the Padres two legitimate middle of the order hitters. Matt Kemp and Justin Upton would bat third or fourth on just about every major league team. They bring a credibility and fierceness to the lineup that had been missing for seasons on end.
The price tag for Upton seemed like a deal, but the real catch is the man is a free agent at the end of the year. He by all means is free to negotiate with whomever he wants. By all indications, that is exactly what he intends to do. Justin Upton and his representative Larry Reynolds had told the Padres they would not discuss extensions during the season. To my knowledge the two sides never seriously talked extension and the season is already in full swing.
The price tag for Justin Upton is going to easily reach $100 million dollars. He at the age of 27, is in the prime of his career. Justin Upton could have 5-7 years of productive years in him, easily. A slugger at his age will likely get a handsome payday. This could get really expensive for the Padres.
There are going to be many determining factors to whether the Padres can sign Justin Upton, this coming off-season. The first issue will be if Wil Myers can successfully handle the center field job. So far he has been average at center, but has shown great speed and range. In order for the Padres to sign Upton, the current outfielders would be set for at least four seasons. Myers is not due for free agency until 2020 and Kemp is signed until 2020 as well.
Could this current outfield be successful for the next five seasons? Kemp and Upton are average outfielders with a slight advantage to Kemp. However Kemp is three-year younger and their defense will both be average at best. Myers is the true wild card. He is a very inexpensive talented player and has preformed well so far in his brief Padres career. If he can prove to be an above average center fielder, then the outfielders can be relied on for the next five seasons and beyond. Myers has to play better than average center field, and that has yet to be seen from the 24-year-old. With a lot of hard work he could be a gold glove caliber center field. The Padres would need to see him trending in that direction before Upton can be extended.