The Blue Jays are reportedly seeking alternatives to 32-year-old outfielder Melvin Upton Jr., according to Buster Olney of ESPN. While their Opening Day roster does not appear to be set in stone just yet, rumor has it that they’re open to offers on the veteran outfielder, and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman believes the Giants and Rays could be a good fit.
Upton Jr. is coming off of a surprisingly productive season at the plate, during which he batted .238/.291/.402 with 20 home runs and 27 steals for the Padres and Blue Jays in 2016. He saw more playing time and a better production rate in San Diego, but was able to contribute something down the stretch for Toronto and tacked on a pair of hits in 11 postseason PA.
The sudden influx of power and speed that boosted Upton Jr.’s totals in 2016 evaporated in spring training, however. He batted an underwhelming .194/.216/.472 in 14 Grapefruit League games, putting up three home runs and getting caught stealing twice in two attempts. Although he made an interesting candidate for the Blue Jays’ fourth outfield spot, the team will likely go with 29-year-old Ezequiel Carrera or 24-year-old Dalton Pompey in left field, barring any external alternatives.
Of the two potential landing spots mentioned by Heyman, Tampa Bay appears to be in greater need of outfield depth as Opening Day nears. With Colby Rasmus and infielder/outfielder Nick Franklin out of the picture, the Rays are expected to split left field between 23-year-old Mallex Smith and veteran Peter Bourjos. The Giants, on the other hand, appear set with Seth Marrero and Jarrett Parker sharing left field duties, though adding some depth at the position shouldn’t be out of the question just yet.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.
Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.
Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies are making third baseman Maikel Franco “more than available” in trade discussions.
Franco, 24, is having an abysmal season after showing promise in 2015 and ’16. Through 289 plate appearances, he’s hitting .221/.280/.365 with nine home runs and 37 RBI. His hitting has tanked and his already below-average defense hasn’t shown any improvement.
It’s a bit surprising that the Phillies would be so eager to move Franco with his value about as low as it can go. Franco is also under control of the rebuilding Phillies through the 2021 season, so the team doesn’t have to rush into moving him. He will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season.
Furthermore, the Phillies don’t have an immediate replacement for Franco at third base. Andres Blanco would likely get everyday starts at the hot corner in the short-term, but as far as prospects go, there are no third baseman banging down the door. If the Phillies were to trade Franco, it would likely have to be in return for a young, talented third baseman who will be under team control for several more years.