Justin Upton has been mentioned in trade rumors for a long time now, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new one. And it’s pretty juicy.
Justin Upton for Chase Headley?
The Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres have held on-and-off discussions about a trade involving those players since July, but the talks have failed to progress, according to major-league sources.
The Diamondbacks, however, continue to discuss Upton with other clubs, including the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners, sources say, while also considering offers for another of their outfielders, Jason Kubel.
Rosenthal speculates that the Padres would likely need to add more to Headley, who is coming off a breakout season in which he finished fifth in the NL MVP balloting. The 28-year-old third baseman projects to make around $8 million via arbitration next season and is under team control through 2014. Meanwhile, Upton doesn’t turn 26 until next August and is under contract for $38.5 million over the next three years. Headley would give the Diamondbacks the third baseman they have been looking for while Jedd Gyorko could take over at third base for the Padres. Talks haven’t gone anywhere and trading within the division is unlikely, but it sure is an interesting scenario.
The Rangers have been connected to Upton all winter and Rosenthal hears that they have been “persistent” and “relentless” in their pursuit. Still, they would prefer to put together a deal with Mike Olt as the centerpiece as opposed to Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar. Unsatisfied, the Diamondbacks believe they could find a better deal with a team like the Mariners, who are desperate to add a power hitter. While Upton has the Mariners on his four-team no-trade list, Rosenthal speculates that they could convince him to accept a deal if they extend his contract. The Braves have also made “strong overtures” for Upton, setting up the possibility of teaming him up with his brother, B.J. Upton, who signed a five-year, $75.25 million contract with the club earlier this offseason.
The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.
In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.
The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report:
Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.
The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.
Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.