Trade rumors are swirling around Justin Upton and his agent, Larry Reynolds, is upset about what he feels are anonymous attacks being made against the Diamondbacks outfielder through the media.
Reynolds told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that trade rumors “are part of the business” and something Upton understands, but “what I don’t like are the comments and innuendos made about Justin’s work ethic and character, especially from those gutless people that don’t want to put their name by a quote.”
He’s certainly got a point, as numerous reporters both local and national have taken to quoting unnamed sources offering their opinions on Upton and most of those opinions are negative while often focusing on something other than his on-field production.
One prominent example was Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com writing recently that “team officials are not convinced that Upton is a winning player” and that’s probably one of the tamer things being said. To which Reynolds insists:
This young man is one of the hardest workers I’ve been around and more importantly, he’s a good person. If they want to trade him, that’s their business, just knock off the unfounded, negative rhetoric.
Of course, it’s worth noting that while the media has passed along the negative comments about Upton from unnamed sources Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick was very open about criticizing Upton (and shortstop Stephen Drew) last month. It also doesn’t help matters that general manager Kevin Towers has been so open about his willingness to trade Upton, which naturally has people speculating about why he’d want to part with a 24-year-old two-time All-Star who hit 31 homers and stole 21 bases last season.
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.
The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.
Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.
As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.