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.
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.