Power and speed is a rare combo, making Upton one of the most sought after free agents in this year’s class.
Prediction: Baltimore Orioles, 8 years/$165 million.
The pros certainly outweigh the cons in the case of Justin Upton. Five times he has had 25+ homers and 15+ stolen bases, posted 7 seasons of .790 OPS or higher, made three all star teams, and only turned 28 in August. He does have a fairly high strikeout rate (120 or more every season since ’08) and requires draft pick compensation. Let’s be honest though, Upton is an all star caliber player in the prime of his career–the team he signs with won’t be worrying about losing a pick. Jacoby Ellsbury’s 7 year/$153 million deal with the Yankees could be a starting point for negotiations.
His destination this offseason will land him in Baltimore. Last year, the O’s watched Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz find new employers. This year, it’s likely they’ll lose catcher Matt Wieters and slugging first baseman Chris Davis. They don’t have much money committed to next year’s payroll, so it’s about time they make a big free agent splash. Camden Yards is very hitter friendly, so Upton could enjoy many 30+ homer seasons over the next several years.