Why losing out on Melvin Upton Jr. is no big loss - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Why losing out on Melvin Upton Jr. is no big loss

This time of year, teams discuss all kinds of possibilities. A lot of those possibilities become public. And then fans lament the loss of what could have been.

The Orioles were in negotiations with the San Diego Padres to send Ubaldo Jimenez and a minor leaguer – it was recently reported by Fox Sports that the Orioles were willing to give up two minor leaguers – for outfielder Melvin Upton Jr.

Upton, known during his long career with the Tampa Bay Rays as B.J., is headed back to the AL East, but he is going to the Toronto Blue Jays with some cash for pitching prospect Hansel Rodriguez. The Blue Jays, however, will pick up a chunk of the $22 million left on Upton’s contract through 2017.

You never like to see a quality player go to a division rival, and Toronto already has a substantial number of powerful hitters.

But so do the Orioles. And getting Upton made only marginal sense in Baltimore.

For one, it meant the club would have shed Jimenez’s albatross contract, which has roughly $18 million or so left through 2017. That wouldn’t be a bad thing.

And Upton, who will be 32 in August, can play center effectively, which is great insurance down the stretch in case the hard-charging Adam Jones gets hurt.

But you’re talking a $22 million insurance policy. Not much more on this roster.

Because, frankly, Upton is a low-average, swing-for-the-fences guy and he’d be taking some playing time from Hyun Soo Kim, who gives the Orioles a needed, different look with his on-base and contact skills. (Yes they could platoon, but you wouldn’t have traded for the right-handed Upton to play only against lefties.)


Upton was having a resurgence in San Diego with 16 homers and 45 RBIs, but he also had struck out 106 times in 374 plate appearances and had an on-base percentage of .304.

Sound familiar?

Fox Sports reported that the Padres’ negotiations with the Orioles broke down because of finances. The Orioles apparently weren’t comfortable with how much more they’d have to pay in this deal.

I don’t know specifics, such as who the minor leaguers were (or if it were even at the stage where two names were agreed upon). But in July, when a team is likely making only one or two trades, you have to be convinced the first move is the right one, because it can affect other potential trades.

And though Upton would have been a nice piece, the much bigger priority is starting pitching. That’s where the Orioles need to spend their resources this week.

If it’s my decision, I concentrate solely on acquiring a starting pitcher before Aug. 1. And then, after that is done, maybe I trade a lesser minor leaguer for a solid, right-handed hitting fourth outfielder with some speed and defensive abilities, a Joey Rickard 2.0 with the real Rickard on the DL. Those guys easily slip through trade waivers in August.

And I never look back at losing the Upton sweepstakes.



  1. JustWin8

    July 26, 2016 at 11:11 am

    No getting Upton is a win for the Orioles

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2016 at 11:29 am

      That’s another way to look at it.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 26, 2016 at 11:58 am

      Absolutely … an aging player with a large contract. Didn’t exactly need that. And all of Dan’s reasoning sounded….uhhh…reasonable.

      • DraftKing

        July 26, 2016 at 3:08 pm

        Well Blue Jays did not get his large contract. The Padres are paying 17 million out of the 22 million he is owned this year and next. So the Blue Jays only got him for 5 million and a below average prospect.

  2. Os fan in Detroit

    July 26, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I am extremely glad we didn’t get Melvin (or BJ or whatever his name will be next year). Just like his brother, he is overpaid for the little bit he adds to the team. — sorry for the shot and Justin but I live near Detroit and all I heard was how the Tigers beat out the Os for his service and he is awful this year too.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2016 at 1:07 pm

      Orioles were never really in on Justin. Certainly not at that price tag

      • DraftKing

        July 26, 2016 at 3:10 pm

        Jays got him for $5 mill and a below average prospect.

  3. karks

    July 26, 2016 at 11:56 am

    I would have been happy with the move, if only so the O’s don’t have to shield Ubaldo any longer. But the move the Padres ended up making made way more sense for them.

    They would have saved a little bit with the swap, but also would have been stuck with a pitcher who is having a terrible year.

    The O’s need to focus on getting another arm for that rotation – simple as that.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2016 at 1:09 pm

      But it’s a lot easier to pitch in Petco. I thought Ubaldo made sense there. Because if he did do OK there, they’d just deal him for another piece. But they got a piece for Upton.

  4. Kubrick68

    July 26, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    100% agree. Next season would be best time to try and deal Ubaldo anyway. Far less financial commitment and he can’t possibly pitch worse than this year. Can he?

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2016 at 1:10 pm

      Theoretically, yes.

  5. Boog Robinson Robinson

    July 26, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    If Upton is owed so much money, trading Ubaldo would have made no sense to me. Other than the salary, I wouldn’t be so quick to get rid of Ubaldo for a bag of crackers. Admittedly, he’s stink/stank/stunk it up so far this year, but let’s not forget he has a history of finding his groove down the stretch in seasons past. You never know, he could yet prove to be valuable. (I hear the laughter)

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      The bag of crackers is somewhat appealing. But giving up minor leaguers and paying for the bag of crackers appeals less.

  6. ZantiGM

    July 26, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Hopefully DD was saving prospects for a Hellickson deal

  7. jeffc_miller

    July 26, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    I feel like the only way Umbaldo gets moved is if we eat a lot of his contract. I keep wondering if it would make much sense to give up some decent prospects for what is on the market. Hard to see a real upgrade anywhere.

  8. claudecat

    July 26, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    The only upside to this deal would have been the addition by subtraction of Ubaldo. Upton was never a necessity, barely a desire. I’m a little disappointed that we still have to keep Ubaldo on the roster, but using him judiciously could pay dividends. Remember, he was the guy that started and won our division clinching game in 2014 after having been benched. You never know.

  9. Creatively_19

    July 26, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    The only downside for the Orioles is watching the Blue Jays get stronger. Having Upton and a healthy Jose Bautista will make a big difference for them down the stretch. Lets just hope Upton doesn’t come back to bite the O’s in the butt, as the two teams have 9 games remaining against each other.

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