Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/11/14
Stop me if you’ve heard this before; the Diamondbacks are listening to offers for Justin Upton again. These aren’t even just courtesy phone calls to check in on his availability, or speculation from other teams about his availability – Kevin Towers flat out confirmed that he’s in trade negotiations with other teams about his star right fielder. “I’m open-minded and I’m going to listen to what people have to say,” he said. “If a deal presents itself that makes the Diamondbacks better, I think I need to be open-minded. The last two years, there has not been a deal that we felt made us better. That’s why we’ve retained him and we’ve kept him.” “He will not be an easy guy for us to move. I think we’ve said it’s probably unlikely we end up doing something with him, but if somebody is willing to step up and we think it’s a deal that’s going to make the Diamondbacks better next year and going forward, we’ll talk about trading him.” When you keep making a player available every winter, the differentiation between “shopping” and “listening” becomes meaningless. And so, with Upton back on the market, the search for a logical trade partner has once again brought the Texas Rangers back into the rumor vortex. In that same piece, Nick Piecoro notes that Upton is not going to be traded for prospects, and he’d want an everyday player or frontline pitcher back in return, and by everyday player, he basically means shortstop or third baseman, as the rest of the D’Backs line-up is full. The Rangers are probably the only team in baseball that has a surplus of Major League ready players at both SS and 3B, so they seem to be the most natural trading partners for the Diamondbacks. Texas isn’t moving Adrian Beltre or Jurickson Profar, so a deal with the Rangers would almost certainly have to be centered around Elvis Andrus. So, let’s break down Andrus and Upton, and figure out whether this is a move that actually works for both sides. Name Age Team Control AAV 10-’12 WAR Justin Upton 25 3 13 12 Elvis Andrus 24 2 7 11 In terms of overall performance, they’re actually pretty similar, with both settling in as +3 to +4 win players, and both are young enough to have upside for more growth. It wouldn’t be a surprise if either became a legitimate +5 win player, though that’s probably a bit more likely for Upton, since Andrus’ defense is likely to get worse, not better, as he gets older. These are unquestionably two of the better young players in baseball, and it’s not clear that one is definitively better than the other right now. In terms of just straight up production, an Andrus for Upton swap is close to fair. Of course, nothing is ever just straight up production. Contracts present an opportunity cost as well, and if the Rangers are watching their pennies, the extra $6 million per year could push the needle in Andrus’ favor. Of course, Upton also has an extra year of team control, which moves the needle back towards the middle. Since the gap in salaries between 3/38 and 2/13 is $25 million over the life of the contracts, its hard to say that Upton’s contract is a significant advantage. The extra year is nice, but so is keeping your financial flexibility in tact, especially if you’re looking at getting into a bidding war over Zack Greinke. So, the contracts don’t provide a big advantage for one side or the other, the production is similar, and they’re at similar points in their career. For Arizona, the appeal of this move seems obvious. Even after acquiring Cliff Pennington, they believe they’re more in need of a shortstop than an outfielder, and swapping Upton for Andrus would essentially be a lateral move that reduced their payroll in the short term. Given that they’re apparently ready to move on from the Justin Upton era, getting a similarly valuable young player with a team friendly contract back at a position of need is about as good of a deal as they could hope for. For Texas, though, it doesn’t make as much sense. Yes, they have Jurickson Profar ready to step into Andrus’ departed role if they make the trade, but Andrus isn’t blocking Profar in a way that makes it impossible for them to extract value from them both. They have the option of playing Profar at second base and moving Kinsler to the outfield, so the trade is more about who plays where then who plays at all. Scouts have never liked Kinsler’s defense as much as defensive metrics, and at age 30, he’s likely to begin losing some of his defensive value pretty soon. Add in the career high 18 errors he made a year ago, and it probably wouldn’t be that tough of a sell to have Kinsler transfer to the OF. The Rangers can already give Profar a full-time job and fill their OF hole at the same time without having to make a trade to do it. If they believe that Kinsler could be a better defensive OF than 2B going forward, than they’d have to believe that Upton is going to significantly outperform Andrus in order to make the deal an actual upgrade. If you think 2011 is the real Justin Upton, then this probably a deal Texas should make, as they’d be buying low on a potential superstar. However, he showed just average power in both 2010 and 2012, and average power from a corner outfielder who strikes out a decent amount isn’t usually the foundation for a true superstar. The flashes of greatness are tempting, and his ceiling is higher than Andrus’, but his floor is also lower and he comes with a higher price tag. If Arizona wants to sweeten the deal a little bit, sending back a guy like Pennington as well to restock the team’s middle infield depth, then this is probably a trade that starts to make sense for Texas. But if Kevin Towers is wants Andrus straight up, or even Andrus+, I think Texas is better off standing pat. They don’t need Upton to fill out their outfield, and they don’t need to trade Andrus to create a job for Jurickson Profar. They’re the ones with leverage here. Andrus for Upton+ is worth thinking about. Less than that, though, and they should probably pass.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Bill Walton has some words of advice for Derrick Rose

Five under-the-radar National Player of the Year candidates

Report: NFL to appeal Adrian Peterson ruling

Dez Bryant's mother in 2012: Dez threatened to knock me out

Full offseason breakdown for all 32 NFL teams


Brandon Bostick received death threats after botched play

Report: Judge rules against Adrian Peterson suspension

Ex-Louisville player charged with rape, sodomy

Hank Aaron 'rooting' for Alex Rodriguez to succeed in return

WATCH: Kevin Garnett welcomed home by Minnesota

Vandy PG has strong words for rival Tennessee

Panthers acquire Jaromir Jagr from Devils

Russell Westbrook is surging into the MVP conversation

HBO picks up Dwayne Johnson’s pro football series, ‘Ballers’

The key offseason moves for every MLB team

Giancarlo Stanton gets first-ever customized facemask

Ronda Rousey, Arianny Celeste have verbal sparring match

Dallas sportscaster back with another powerful essay

The many parallels of Derrick Rose and Penny Hardaway

Ex-homeless Baylor RB admits he broke rules

Why the Lions should let Ndamukong Suh walk

Schilling goes after guys on Twitter for hitting on daughter

Brad Stevens comments on Rondo benching

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Russell Westbrook is surging into the MVP conversation

Five-round NFL Mock Draft

Key offseason moves for every MLB team

Bostick received death threats after botched play

Rousey, Arianny Celeste get into it

Dallas sportscaster back with another powerful essay

The parallels of Rose and Hardaway

Offseason breakdown for all 32 NFL teams

On Josh Hamilton's addiction and feeling alone

Judge rules against AP's suspension

Why the Lions should let Suh walk

Chris Jones charged with rape, sodomy

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.