Shortly after taking over as Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers made headlines for saying he’d be open to trading Justin Upton for the right package.
Two years later Upton remains in Arizona, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Diamondbacks “are trying to trade” him following a disappointing season in which Upton saw his OPS drop 113 points compared to 2011.
Just last month owner Ken Kendrick said that the Diamondbacks were “highly unlikely” to trade Upton, but according to Rosenthal “the team is again engaged in active discussions.”
Rosenthal speculates that the Rangers could be a potential fit, mentioning shortstop Elvis Andrus by name. Last season Upton had the ability to block trades to the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, and Indians, but a source told Rosenthal that the list has since changed.
Upton is set to earn $9.75 million in 2013, $14.25 million in 2014, and $14.5 million in 2015. He’s still just 25 years old and one season removed from finishing fourth in the MVP balloting, but the Diamondbacks are pretty deep in outfielders thanks in part to the emergence of top prospect Adam Eaton and clearly have doubts about the former No. 1 overall pick’s ability to develop into a superstar.
Or maybe Towers just likes keeping Upton on his toes constantly.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.