He didn’t go as far to reiterate what Arizona Diamondbacks’ managing general partner Ken Kendrick told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo, but general manager Kevin Towers made it clear during his season wrap-up session with the media Thursday that now is not the most opportune time for the team to trade outfielder Justin Upton.
Kendrick had said Wednesday that despite declining numbers in 2012, Upton’s chances off leaving the organization this winter were “highly unlikely.”
“Ken says that because the last two years nothing has happened,” Towers said. “I would say if there was ever a time to cash in it was probably last year. Nothing happened. No deal presented itself.
“[Upton’s] a player we all admire. It’s a guy we know, someone we’ve had history with. He’s still young, and we still think there’s great upside potential.”
A year after putting up career-highs in home runs (31), RBI (88), extra base hits(75) and hits (171), the 25-year-old hit a bit of a road block this season — one many predicted had MVP potential going into Spring Training.
Despite finishing the year with an impressive final two weeks, Upton’s numbers — .280 batting average, 17 home runs and 67 RBI in 624 plate appearances — reflect a major reason for the team’s offensive regression in 2012.
While rumors ratcheted up during the offseason and July’s trade deadline regarding Upton, it appears heading into 2013 the D-backs’ front office has other plans in mind at the top of the priority list, including a desire to find a shortstop or third baseman of the future.
With that said, Towers did express Wednesday that his job, first and foremost, is to act in the best interest of the team. So if calls came his way inquiring about Upton, he’d be inclined to hear all offers made.
“Ken certainly understands that it’s our job in baseball to field calls and gather information to find out if there’s a deal for Justin or any of our other players that might make us better,” said Towers. “I’m not gonna lie, you take [Upton] out of your lineup, he’s very hard to replace.
“Any deal you would get back you’d have to get an offensive piece and a pitching piece. Those deals just don’t come around that often.”
Upton’s six-year deal worth $51.25 million with the team doesn’t expire until after the 2015 season.
Kyndra de St. Aubin contributed to this report