Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that “it’s increasingly likely” Justin Upton will exercise the opt-out clause in his contract and test free agency.
Upton posted career-highs in home runs (35), RBI (109), and OPS (.901) this season between the Tigers and Angels, batting .273/.361/.540. He has four years and $88.5 million remaining on his contract, so by saying goodbye to the Angels, he’s banking on doing better than that on the market. Last year the biggest free agent deals for hitters went to Yoenis Cespedes at four years, $110 million, Dexter Fowler at five years and $82.5 million, Ian Desmond at five years and $70 million, Justin Turner at four years, $64 million and Edwin Encarnacion at three years and $60 million.
The other big free agent bats with whom Upton will be competing will be fellow former Tiger J.D. Martinez and soon-to-be-ex-Royals Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Hosmer will be 28 next season, Moustakas is 29 and Martinez and Upton are both 30. Neither Upton nor Martinez will be subject to qualifying offers given that they were traded mid-season. It remains to be seen if the Royals will put qualifying offers on their departing free agents, thereby limiting their market, but at least Hosmer should get one and possibly both of them will.
Today the Angels introduced their newest big star, Anthony Rendon, who just signed a seven-year, $245 million contract to play in Orange County.
And it is Orange County, not Los Angeles, Rendon stressed at the press conference. When asked about the Dodgers, who had also been reported to be courting him, Rendon said he preferred the Angels because, “the Hollywood lifestyle . . . didn’t seem like it would be a fit for us as a family.”
What “the Hollywood Lifestyle” means in that context could mean a lot of things I suppose. It could be about the greater media scrutiny Dodgers players are under compared to Angels players. It could mean that he’d simply prefer to live in Newport Beach than, I dunno, wherever Dodgers players live. Pasadena? Pasadena is more convenient to Dodger Stadium than the beach. Who knows. They never did let Yasiel Puig get that helicopter he wanted, so traffic could’ve been a consideration.
But maybe it’s a subtle allusion to political/cultural stuff. Orange County has trended to the left in some recent elections but it is, historically speaking, a conservative stronghold in Southern California. And, based on something else he said in his press conference, Rendon seems to be pretty conscious of geographical/political matters:
A shoutout to the notion of Texas being Trump country and an askance glance at “the Hollywood Lifestyle” of Los Angeles all in the same press conference. That’s a lot of culture war ground covered in one press conference. So much so that I can’t decide if I should warn Rendon that both Texas and Orange County are trending leftward or if I should tell him to stick to sports.