Former MLB scout and current ESPN MLB insider Keith Law thinks the Arizona Diamondbacks are going to trade Justin Upton.
"I think they are very strongly motivated to trade him, and I just get the sense that Kevin Towers doesn't like him," he told Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf Tuesday. "Not even just as a player, but there's something about Upton's personality or demeanor that Towers just doesn't like."
Law, though, is surprised the D-backs are even entertaining the idea of moving Upton, who was fourth in the NL MVP voting just last season and is under contract at a reasonable salary the next few seasons.
"Unless you believe there is something seriously wrong with his makeup -- which, personally, I doubt -- why wouldn't you want him," Law asked. "What team wouldn't want a Justin Upton?"
From some accounts, the team that currently has him, and Law thinks the team is going about this whole process the wrong way.
"I'm not really sure if the Diamondbacks are properly valuing Upton by making it so clear that they're not just willing to trade him, but interested in doing so sooner rather than later," he added.
Law said he feels Upton's struggles should be attributed to the regular struggles players tend to go through with their timing rather than an issue with his effort or work ethic, which means he could fix things at a moment's notice and "turn into the monster-type of player that we saw last year."
"It's not work ethic, it's not make-up, but it is something that becomes an added responsibility for the coaching staff to identify when that's happening and to be able to fix it," Law said.
You have to think if the D-backs could figure that out they would, because that seems like a much better option than trading him. However, until Upton turns things around he's just a disappointing player in what has been a very disappointing season.
Which is why, perhaps, while the team knows Upton could very well fulfill his incredible potential, the .271 average he entered Tuesday with to go along with just seven home runs and 38 RBI are something they're interested in just moving on from.
Thing is, Law believes Upton will return to form and be the player who was an MVP candidate in 2011, whether it be this season or sometime over the next few. Because, he said, hitters tend to peak in their late 20s, which means Upton has not-yet reached his prime.
"Whether they trade him or not, he will return to the player that he was last year, and I think someone's going to bet on that," Law said. "And if you're the Diamondbacks you do not want to go out and swing a trade where the best player you get in return…doesn't even have a hope as being as good as Justin Upton was last year.
"That is a recipe to set your franchise back, not to mention it's the kind of thing that tends to dog a GM until his tenure is over."
Which may be part of the reason why, despite all the rumors, Upton has not been traded as of yet. Towers has maintained all along that he's not necessarily shopping Upton, but would consider moving him if it made the team better.
The problem is, according to Law, it would be tough to do that by shipping a player like Upton out of town.
"I would be hard-pressed to see them doing something that makes the club better this year," he said, noting how the D-backs are still in the playoff race. "If they trade Justin Upton it's probably going to reduce their chances of reaching the playoffs this year."
But of course, that does not mean Upton will not be traded at some point over the next couple weeks, which is something Law believes will happen, even if it is ultimately to the team's detriment.
"For whatever reason, Towers just doesn't think Upton's going to play up to his physical abilities," Law said. "There's an entire industry of people who look at Upton -- even guys who've told me, ‘Yeah, you know maybe Upton isn't quite going to be as good as we thought he was coming out of high school, but I'd still take him.'
"There's 29 other clubs out there that are looking at Justin Upton and thinking ‘is Arizona crazy.'"