Life is good for San Diego Padres outfielder Justin Upton, as he’s 27 years old and heading toward free agency at the conclusion of this season. It would be a wise decision for the Padres to sign him to a long-term agreement quickly or risk losing him on the open market to the highest bidder.
What is the worst-case scenario? The Padres signed a good player at market value or that they committed a stud to an absurdly cheap contract. Upton has played better than his reputation in Atlanta and prior to that in Phoenix. Too many players of his ability are underappreciated, as teams have difficulty replacing their production in the lineup after they have left town.
The Upton trade to San Diego was a game-changer. The team addressed the need for a true power hitter in the starting lineup, plus upgrading their defense in the outfield. Keeping Upton in town long-term sends a message that you’re that much closer to becoming a perennial contender for the National League West crown.
Padres general manager A.J. Preller fully understands that he has jump started the rebuilding process in San Diego with this acquisition.
Instantly, Upton became the best hitter on the Padres after the completion of this trade with the Atlanta Braves. No question, he possess the skill set needed (do I dare say it) to lead a team to a World Series title, as he in the lineup every day and is a clutch hitter with runners in scoring position.
Yeah, Upton strikes out too much, but he has shown that pitcher-friendly Petco Park cannot contain his power. It has come to no surprise that Upton has become a crowd favorite in San Diego.
The bigger question that needs to be answered is there enough money hidden underneath the cushions of the sofa in the owner’s suite at Petco to keep Upton in a Padres uniform. They cannot give the notion that he’s a mere rental that could be traded at the deadline for prospects. Unfortunately, Padre fans have experienced Swapmeet Armageddon too often in the past.
No, the Padres must stay ahead of the curve by making a long-term commitment to him, as this move would be a clear sign that the team is ready to contend. Even if Upton has any semblance of normal declining skills, his production should keep him a top of baseball’s statistical leaderboard for years to come.
Baseball franchises are becoming more aggressive in resigning their better players before they hit the open market. More often, players are open to stay if a team is persistent and realistic with their contract offer.
You have to wonder what effect of having his brother, Melvin Upton Jr., on the Padres roster will have on Justin. They’re reunited once again, with the hope they will play up to their ability. This wasn’t the case during their time together in Atlanta. If the bond of family lures Justin to stay in San Diego, then kudos to Preller and his staff for acquiring Upton Jr.’s sizable contract.
My suggestion to the Padres: Lock Justin Upton immediately, no matter the cost.
You’ll thank me later.
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