Toronto Blue Jays Acquire Melvin Upton Jr. from San Diego Padres
The Toronto Blue Jays added some key depth to their bench when they acquired San Diego Padres outfield Melvin Upton Jr. in exchange for minor league pitcher Hansel Rodriguez. The move marks another in a long line of moves for the Padres this season as they have managed to barter off a number of veterans this season. The move was the second significant move the Blue Jays have made (they also added Jason Grilli) this season.
Why the Blue Jays make this trade?
For some folks, this trade was kind of confusing as the Jays didn’t have a huge need in the outfield coming in. Michael Saunders was an all-star in left field, Jose Bautista has long been a superstar in right field and the combination of Kevin Pillar and Ezequiel Carrera have been okay in center field. Their presence on the roster already leaves some to wonder if there is going to be another move at some point.
Petco Park has a way of making hitters look puny, so we have to take Upton’s numbers with a grain of salt. The fact is that his OPS+ stood at a league average 100 this season. He’s also added 20 stolen bases in 25 attempts this season, so overall he could be called an above average offensive player. He spent most of his career as a center fielder, but he played most of the season in left field for the Padres. So, he could conceivably play every outfield position. This makes him an ideal candidate to serve as a fourth outfielder.
That being said, technically Pillar and Carrera have been below average performers this season. Upton offers an upside of yet another quality bat in the lineup. So, it remains to be seen how Upton will be utilized. Saunders and Bautista have been injury prone in the past, so Upton does provide them with more insurance in case either one gets hurt down the stretch. So, at the end of the day, it’s not a completely indefensible move, but it seems odd to focus this much energy on a player like Upton.
Why the Padres make this trade?
Rodriguez settles in as the Padres 14th best prospect according to MLB.com. Scouts say he has a plus fastball to go along with a mediocre slider and changeup. He is still only 19 years old, so he has time to develop. He has served as a starter this season and in past seasons for the Blue Jays (2-1, 32.1 INN, 3.06 ERA 26/11 SO/BB). Looking at his stuff now, you could project him as a future reliever at the big league level, but since he is still playing in short season A ball, he has plenty of time to develop secondary offerings and develop consistency with his delivery.
This is all to say that the Padres have managed to dump part of Upton’s contract (he was owed around 16 million this season total and has a contract for close to 18 million next season) and get a quality prospect in return. It is not known how much of Upton’s contract that the Padres are responsible for, but when you saw Upton this time last season it would have to be considered a minor miracle that they got anything of value for him.
What this deal means for you
This is hard. On the one hand, Upton is moving from a horrible hitting environment to a team loaded with offensive talent and a ballpark that should play to his strengths. On the other hand, the Jays have more depth in the outfield and it’s hard to envision Upton playing every day with Kevin Pillar and Ezequiel Carrera there to share time. Upton is clearly a fringe regular in three outfielder leagues, but he’s being employed in most five outfielder leagues. He was a huge waiver wire add for teams early on in the season. If I were an Upton owner (which I am) I’d be nervous about playing time, but also hopeful that his per game production will get a nice bump.