The Giants have reportedly expressed interest in trading for Tigers outfielder Justin Upton, according to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com. However, Morosi reports that Upton’s ability to opt out of the final four years of his contract after this season presents a major obstacle as the teams try to get a deal done.
While tonight is the deadline for waiver trades if teams want the players involved in them to be playoff-eligible, that won’t be a consideration for the Giants, who are 53-82 and were eliminated from NL West contention over a week ago. Thus, the teams still have a month to work out a deal.
Upton, 30, is still owed $88.5 million over the next four seasons, but since he’s hit .279/.362/.542 with 28 homers in 520 plate appearances this season, he may be in position to command an even more lucrative deal on the free-agent market this winter if he opts out. He also possesses a 20-team no-trade clause, and considering previous comments that Upton has made on Twitter, it seems very likely that the Giants would be one of the teams on that list:
@walkinthewalk I hate going to SF. The ball travels like crap there— Justin Upton (@JUST_JUP) December 23, 2011
The Giants desperately need to add a power hitter to their lineup; consider, for instance, that their top three hitters in Wednesday night’s lineup—Denard Span, Kelby Tomlinson, and Gorkys Hernandez—have combined for nine homers this season, all of which have been hit by Span.
But since San Francisco is nearing the luxury tax threshold for 2018 and still owes $15 million guaranteed to Span and $18.5 million to Hunter Pence, they may be better off giving opportunities to young outfielders like Chris Shaw, Austin Slater, Jarrett Parker, and Steven Duggar and spending big money on an upgrade at third base, where Christian Arroyo, Ryder Jones, and Pablo Sandoval have been rather unimpressive this season.
At the very least, it would seemingly make more sense for the Giants to wait a month and see if Upton opts out this offseason, rather than giving up assets and betting on him staying put this winter.