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.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.