At 25 years of age, right fielder Justin Upton would seemingly make the perfect cornerstone for the Arizona Diamondbacks to build around in the coming years.
In five full seasons, the former No. 1 overall pick has already made two All-Star Game appearances, while also hitting over 100 home runs and 350 RBI.
However for the third consecutive offseason, general manager Kevin Towers has not shied away from making Upton available to interested teams.
While Upton has survived yet another tumultuous winter of rumors so far, one ESPN MLB insider believes his value might be diminished because of Towers’ inconsistent behavior.
“Everyone thinks he is going to be traded,” Keith Law told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Wednesday. “The conversation I had the other day with a pretty high-ranking scout was that [the D-backs] put out feelers enough and have given out signs that they are interested in trading him to other clubs, that they’re running the risk of devaluing him at this point.”
Although Upton has remained quiet in regards to the latest round of trade talks, Law can’t see a situation where the right fielder would want to be in a D-backs uniform moving forward.
“They’ve created an environment where it’s going to be very uncomfortable if Upton is still a Diamondback when spring training starts,” said Law. “Other clubs are coming to Arizona and saying ‘Why should we give you 100 cents on the dollar, when you’ve made it clear you don’t really want this guy anymore?'”
Last month’s signing of free agent Cody Ross gives Arizona an excess number of outfielders, but Law doesn’t believe Upton, who is due to make $9.75 million next season,
will be the fall guy simply based on payroll concerns.
Law previously worked in the Toronto Blue Jays front office from 2002-2006 and said that if he were a general manager pursuing Upton, he’d buy low not based on the player but how the player is being presented.
So the question is, has Towers screwed up with the manner in which he’s handled Upton?
“I don’t like the way [Towers] has handled it,” said Law.
“It remains to be seen if his strategy will work out or not. We will see what they actually get for him. I personally, and some of this is just a philosophy thing, wouldn’t have handled it this way.