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Tigers trade rumors: Justin Upton could be moved this winter

Detroit tried to trade Upton last off-season.

Detroit Tigers v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin Liles/Getty Images

UPDATE — Detroit received calls with regard to Justin Upton but didn’t attempt to trade him, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Detroit “pushed” to trade outfielder Justin Upton last year and will make an attempt to move him again this off-season, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Because the Tigers signed Upton to a six-year deal worth more than $130 million last January, the club’s decision is notable. Though he struggled in April and May, the contract appeared to make Upton one of the faces of Detroit’s franchise.

Upton, 29, had a down season with regard to average but still provided power, batting .246/.310/.465 with 31 home runs and 87 RBIs. Last season was Upton’s first on an American League team’s roster. The slow start might have reflected an adjustment period.

Though he proved to be a power threat, Upton posted 1.4fWAR, a low figure given the Tigers were paying him more than $22 million.

Unless Upton decides he wants to play for a new team, it might be challenging for the Tigers to move him. He has a no-trade clause in his contract that enables him to block trades to 20 teams.

Upton’s deal is comparably extensive, and as Olney points out, teams seeking outfield help will likely find players with smaller contracts to trade for. Upton is still due more than $110 million, and his deal includes an opt-out clause. As a result, the Tigers might be forced to keep him or take a smaller package in return.

While the Tigers could be fielding offers on other players, the fact they are considering an Upton trade not long after signing him could be alarming, according to Olney. If they are unable to complete a deal, Detroit could consider building its off-season plans around having Upton in the starting lineup.