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CBS Insider: Justin Upton is still on the trade block

The Arizona Diamondbacks made one thing for certain after last weekend’s signing (three-year contract worth $24 million) of veteran Cody Ross, one of the team’s five outfielders was bound to be moved before the 2013 season.

With one year left on his contract with Arizona, left fielder Jason Kubel appeared to be an obvious target. While Kubel did hit 30 home runs and 90 RBI in 2011, his batting average dropped considerably from .287 to .250 over the final two months of the season.

However, as CBS MLB Insider Jon Heyman reported Thursday, Kubel might not be the only Arizona outfielder up for grabs at this point.

Enter 25-year-old right fielder Justin Upton, he of the constant trade rumors over the last three years.

Heyman spoke to a person close to the situation this week and it was suggested that “someone will go,” although a name was not provided. So Heyman relied on his own deductive reasoning.

That means either Upton, the wunderkind who spends a lot of time on the trading block, Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra is likely to be dealt. And since it’s not too likely that it’ll be Parra, who the D-Backs want to keep for his defense, Upton is now one of two prime candidates to be traded.

Arizona owner Ken Kendrick remains a big fan of Upton’s, as he suggested in this space a few weeks back. He is such a big fan sources suggest he’ll need to be convinced any potential Upton trade is is something they need to do.

While a general manager’s word only means so much these days, the timing of Heyman’s report is interesting considering Kevin Towers’ recent comments .

Two days after the D-backs shipped off 21-year-old pitcher Trevor Bauer to Cleveland in a three-team deal that netted them shortstop Didi Gregorius, reliever Tony Sipp and first baseman Lars Anderson, Towers reiterated that the organization had never been close to trading Upton this winter.

“We never came close at all, no closer than the last two years when we went to the winter meetings,” Towers told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf on December 13. “We value this kid very highly — for obvious reasons — and you know, we said the only way that we would talk about moving Justin is if we got a package back that made us a better ball club in 2013 and beyond, and that didn’t happen.”

Heyman predicted that the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays could all be in the market for Upton’s services, but it still seems unlikely that any of those clubs could compensate Arizona with the level of major league talent that Towers would seek heading into Spring Training.