The time has come for all San Diego Padres fans to face reality. This season is looking more and more like a disappointment for the team, and worst of all, slugging outfielder Justin Upton is about to be a free agent. He looks to be the only Padres player in the All-Star game (baring a late minute addition due to injury) and his value seems to be increasing by the minute.
Padres management has to be aware that Upton is certainly pricing himself out of the Padres plans. He is likely to command in the excess of $150 million dollars on the open market. The Padres already have a ton of money invested in Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton Jr. and James Shields, so its hard to imagine the team can afford to keep Justin Upton as well. The harsh reality is that Upton is looking more and more like a one year rental, and the Padres are likely to get even less time than that out of him.
The Padres gave up Max Fried, Mallex Smith, Dustin Peterson and Jace Peterson for Justin Upton in December. Fried was the teams #1 pick in the 2012 MLB draft. He is currently trying to battle back from Tommy John surgery, but he is still 21 and has a very high ceiling. Mallex Smith is tearing it up in the Braves minor league system. He was recently promoted to Gwinett, the Braves AAA ball club. The speedster was promoted after hitting .340 with 23 stolen bases in 206 at bats for the AA team out of Mississippi. In 13 games and 56 at bats in AAA, Smith is hitting .232 with five stolen bases. At the age of 22, Smith is on the fast track to the Major Leagues. He could be in Atlanta by the end of the year, if he proves he can handle hitting AAA pitching.
Jace Peterson has continued to surprise most around Major League baseball with his play. Currently hitting .254 with three home runs and 35 RBI’s, Peterson has proved to be very useful as an everyday Major League second baseman. He has amassed a 1.1 WAR on the year which is very impressive for the 25-year-old rookie. That total is better than any of the current second baseman who are playing for the Padres (Gyorko 0.3, Spangenberg 0.4, Solarte 0.6). Dustin Peterson himself is having a decent season in high A Ball (Carolina) as well. He is currently hitting .271 with five home runs and 27 RBI’s in 221 at bats. The left-handed hitting third baseman-outfielder has shorten his swing and cut down on his strike outs this season.
The prospects given to the Braves for Upton are producing, and that puts even more pressure on Padres management to make the most of having Justin Upton. A trade is not a 100 percent certainty right now. If Justin Upton is the only All-Star on the team, the Padres management would be very hard pressed to deal him. The press release from the Major Media would label the Padres as failures and the word “Fire Sale” would be thrown around. A term that no fan would want to hear in America’s Finest City.
The Padres might be sellers come July 31st, but in no way are they having a fire sale. The team went for it all this season, and Padres fans should appreciate the effort the front office took to become relevant. Building a quality baseball team is an art in some respects. Sometimes it takes a little time to understand and cultivate a winning tradition. Padres fans will just have to be patient and understand that fact.
If the Padres decide to move Upton then they will surely be looking to either package him with his brother Melvin Upton Jr. Not a likely scenario as Upton Jr.’s contract has been labeled the worst in MLB (currently the next 3 seasons for $46.35 million). Or the team would surely be looking for young Major League quality talent that is on the cusp of performing. The Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals, New York Mets, and Los Angeles Angels seem like likely trade partners and suitors for Upton. All though it could be said, just about any team in the playoff race could use the bat of Justin Upton in their lineup.
After losing a season high five straight games and falling nine games under the .500 mark, the team is looking dead in the water. The only thing that could save this team is a winning streak in the next two weeks. There are 17 games until the trade deadline. The team would need to go 14-3 or better in that span to get back into the race. If they fail to do so, then the rumors will start to swirl around Padres players being dealt to contenders. Justin Upton will be highly sought after and Padres fans can only hope a bidding war takes place. If that is the case, the Padres could very easily deal Upton.