Following the Padres huge splash during the winter meetings when they brought outfielder Matt Kemp into the fold, it was thought the small market team from San Diego might be done dealing. This notion may not be the case however, as the Padres may now be positioning themselves to bring in another big bat in the form of Justin Upton from the Atlanta Braves.
Several teams appear in on the 27-year old outfielder along with the Padres, namely the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers. Where he will land is still unknown, but the retooling Braves appear set to move Upton before spring training rosters take shape. Upton has been in the majors since 2007 when he debuted with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and is a career .274 hitter with 164 home runs and 535 runs batted in. Last season in 154 games he batted .270 with 29 home runs, 102 RBI's and a Silver Slugger award. Besides the obvious batting exploits Upton also brings a solid glove in the outfield and durability. Over his last four seasons Upton has only missed 36 games, a stark contrast to the newly acquired Kemp.
The potential pairing of Upton and Kemp would be an obvious boost to a Padres team that was starved for offense in 2014, but a look at the statistics shows just how much it could actually mean. A season ago the Padres combined for 109 home runs and 500 RBIs, while Upton and Kemp combined for more than a third of those totals combined -- 54 home runs and 191 RBI's. The Padres activity this off season not only shows a commitment to getting better on offense, but a commitment to giving fans a reason to come to the ballpark.
It's not clear what the Padres would send to Atlanta in exchange for Upton should a deal be done. With Upton owed $14.5 million in the final year of his contract, the Braves would likely have to take Carlos Quentin to make a smart deal salary wise for the Friars. The partially rebuilding Braves would likely also want some young talent back in the deal. Atlanta has already moved fellow outfielder Jason Heyward to St.Louis in an effort to change course, and Upton will likely be jettisoned next.
The Padres may prove to be unsuccessful in their attempts to bring Upton to Petco Park, but their new found desire to keep improving and pursue top caliber players like Kemp and Upton speaks to the direction the ball club is heading in the future.