The Diamondbacks have been dangling Justin Upton on the trading block since the July 31 deadline, so they have a pretty good idea of what teams are willing to offer for the talented young outfielder.
And it doesn’t seem like they’re expecting a match.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports heard from a source this weekend that there is a “90 percent chance” Upton will open the 2013 season with Arizona. “I think there’s a very high likelihood Justin will be in our starting outfield when we start the new season,” Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick added when asked.
The Rangers seemed like a potential suitor, but they informed the D’Backs at the general meetings earlier this month that they were not willing to include either of their two young shortstops — Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus — in a trade. The Diamondbacks want young staring pitching and a young infielder.
Upton, 25, batted .280/.335/.430 with 17 home runs, 18 stolen bases and 67 RBI in 150 games this past season. He is owed $9.75 million in 2013, then $14.25 million in 2014 and $14.5 million in 2015.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.
I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.
Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.
Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?