After Arizona Diamondbacks’ outfielder Justin Upton nixed a deal that would have sent him to the Seattle Mariners, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that D-Backs GM Kevin Towers had no intentions of lowering his asking price for the 25-year-old:
“I’m not taking less,” Towers said here in a brief interview at the Scouts Foundation dinner. “I’m in no hurry.”
Upton has been on the block a few times over the past two-plus years, the Diamondbacks have an excess of very good outfielders after signing free agent Cody Ross, and while folks on other teams wonder now whether Arizona likes Upton as much as other teams do, Towers pointed out that was the only trade he agreed to involving the former No. 1 pick in all this time.
Towers also said owner Ken Kendrick is “fine” with them keeping all their outfielders. Kendrick expressed a strong affinity for Upton in this space a couple months ago, though he’s obviously leaving the call up to Towers.”
Upton may have squashed a trade that would have sent him to Seattle, but clearly Towers doesn’t believe he’s squashed his trade value. According to Heyman, Towers suggested the package Seattle put together actually set a bar that other teams will have to shoot for if they’re going to have a shot at landing the Arizona right fielder:
The multitalented Upton rejected the agreed-upon trade that would have sent him to Seattle for top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker, fine-hitting shortstop prospect Nick Franklin and two more prospects, believed to be young pitchers Stephen Pryor, a right-hander, and Charlie Furbush, a lefthander. The package was notable in that several competing executives expressed surprise at how much Towers got for Upton. Walker is considered one of baseball’s very best pitching prospects and Franklin is an exceptional hitter, though it isn’t certain whether he will stay at shortstop.
Towers suggested the Seattle deal, which got a lot of attention around baseball as a rather large package, should be looked at as the baseline for another deal, not the ceiling.”
With Arizona seemingly satisfied by a deal centered around Seattle’s top pitching prospect, Mets fans were left to wonder whether or not the team would be willing to give up Zack Wheeler in order to obtain Upton’s services and bolster an outfield that currently includes the likes of Mike Baxter, Lucas Duda, Kirk Niuewenhuis, Collin Cowgill and maybe Scott Hairston (if we’re lucky!). Based on Heyman’s tweet this afternoon, that doesn’t seem to be an option Sandy Alderson is willing to consider and the sides don’t see fit for a trade at this point.
It seems like Towers has been true to his word and is willing to take his time and see if someone will step up to meet his asking price.
In the end, the D-Backs have all the leverage. They can deal from a position of strength if they choose to do so, but as a young club they can afford to be patient. After finishing .500 last season Towers has been busy this winter and done his best to put his team in position to make a playoff run in 2013. Their trade of Trevor Bauer in a deal that landed them Didi Gregorius helped fill a hole at shortstop and they bolstered their staff by signing Brandon McCarthy to a 2-year/$15.5 million contract. Toss in Cody Ross, who they inked to a 3-year/$26 million deal and you have the makings of a team that is primed to make a run at a NL West title or at the very least a wildcard birth. Mets fans have to hope their team, after shedding payroll these past few seasons and trading for young players such as Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud, will be in a position similar to that of the D-Backs in the near future.
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