It’s been well known that outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. has been involved in trade talks. This morning Ken Rosenthal got the scoop that a trade had been arranged with the Blue Jays. Reports suggest that the Padres are eating a fair chunk of Upton’s contract so they can get a "Class A" prospect in return.
UPDATE: The prospect reported to be coming to the Padres is righty pitcher Hansel Rodriguez, the Jays' #18 prospect.
Upton is owed the balance of his $15,450,000 salary this year and $16,450,000 for the 2017 season. He came to the team in the Craig Kimbrel trade as an overpriced, underproducing former wunderkind. In a little more than a year with the Padres, he proved to the doubters that he still has plenty of game. While the rate stats are league average, his bat produced three walk-off home runs and plenty of big hits. He stayed near the league leaders in stolen bases and the glove was consistently excellent. On top of that, he accepted any role the Padres wanted him to play, going from a backup fourth outfielder behind Will Myers, Matt Kemp, and his brother Justin Upton, to the starting centerfielder late last year, to left field this season, then into a time share as Alex Dickerson started to get more playing time in recent weeks. He’s been a great player to watch and a stellar teammate.
An upside for Padres fans may be that this move could open up a slot for Hunter Renfroe or Manuel Margot to join the roster before September. Margot is currently on the 40-man roster, while Renfroe is not. Jon Jay is still recovering from a broken forearm, so this leaves Travis Jankowski as the only centerfielder left on the roster. With Alex Dickerson already with the Padres, the team might opt to call Margot up to give Jankowski a backup until Jay is back up to speed.
Upton was rumored last week to be headed to the Orioles in exchange for struggling starter Ubaldo Jimenez, supposedly with a prospect coming back from Baltimore in the deal. While Toronto has significant prospect depth from which to deal, Baltimore’s system is relatively weak. This deal suggests that the future prospect value is more important than cost savings in the short term.