Publicly at least most players say they aren’t bothered a ton by trade rumors, but B.J. Upton admitted feeling very relieved yesterday once the afternoon deadline came and went without his leaving Tampa Bay.
In fact, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune notes that Upton “raised his arms and yelled ‘word … I’m still here!'” as the deadline officially passed while he played catch in the outfield.
Here’s what Upton told Mooney about the experience of being on the trading block:
I’m just glad it’s over with. That’s probably the most nerve-wracking two weeks I ever had. I’ve always said I want to be here. I grew up playing with these guys, a lot of good guys on this team, a good organization, so I’m just glad it’s over with and we can move forward and continue to try to win ball games.
Definitely a little bit tougher than I thought it would be. You wake up and that’s the first thing you see is trade talks, and obviously I was in them. Come to the field and that’s all you see all over the place, you guys ask me the same thing every day, so yeah, it was definitely tough. I’m glad it’s over.
Upton went 5-for-52 (.096) in the two weeks leading up to the trade deadline, although certainly he’s had plenty of prolonged slumps in the past without being able to blame trade rumors for shaking him up. And while he’s out of the woods for now, there’s a slim chance he could still be moved before August 31 and the Rays will almost certainly revisit trade talks for Upton during the offseason.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.