Justin Upton was traded to the Seattle Mariners, until he wasn’t. On Thursday, FoxSports.com reported that the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Mariners had agreed upon a trade that would send the two-time All-Star outfielder to Seattle for a package of four prospects.
However, since the Mariners were one of four teams on Upton’s limited no-trade clause in his contract, he decided to veto the trade.
“I don’t have any comment on any trade rumors. That’s been our policy all along,” said Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik via cell phone.
According to another report from CBS Sports’ Scott Miller, the Diamondbacks could have taken up to four players, including relievers Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor, infield prospect Nick Franklin and one of the “Big Three” of right-hander Taijuan Walker or lefties James Paxton or Danny Hultzen.
It’s a healthy compensation for Upton, who hit .280 with 17 homers and 67 RBI in 150 games in 2012. Upton is a two-time All-Star. In 2011, he hit .289 with 31 homers, 88 RBI and 21 stolen bases. However, he clashed with Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson last season, even being benched for period of games.
Why would Upton veto the trade? Obviously, the Mariners struggles the last few seasons and the spacious confines of Safeco Field are hindrances. But limited no-trade clauses are often used by players and agents as leverage to determine the exact place they want to go. They put teams that they know might be interested and they have no interest in going to. The Red Sox, Blue Jays and Cubs were on Upton’s no-trade list. His original no-trade teams were Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Oakland and have switched over the years. Last season, the Yankees and Red Sox were on the list.
If the Diamondbacks are truly interested in ridding themselves of Upton, he can use the no-trade clause to precipitate a trade to a loaded Texas Rangers team or to the Atlanta Braves, where his brother, B.J., recently signed a five-year free-agent contract.
Are the Mariners completely out of the Upton deal? No.
They can offer to remove the final year of the remaining three years on Upton’s contract and change it to a player option, giving him the chance to opt for free agency a year earlier. It’s an unlikely, but possible scenario. The Diamondbacks could also force his hand by declaring that they plan to sit Upton and use him only as a bench player and instead play the recently signed Cody Ross, Adam Eaton and Jason Kubel in the outfield, an even less likely scenario.
If the window to Upton is truly closed, expect the Mariners to explore other possibilities in the coming days to add offense.