Multiple sources are reporting this evening that the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners had a trade in place that would have sent outfielder Justin Upton to the Mariners in exchange for a “substantial package.” Upton has a partial no-trade clause in which he is allowed to name four teams he can reject a trade to, and the Mariners were one of those teams.
Don’t give up on this trade just yet, however. Many times, no-trade clauses are bought out by the new team, typically by restructuring the player’s contract in some way. The same could still happen with the Mariners and Upton.
But the question still remains as to just which prospects were included in the “substantial package” that would have been, and possibly could still be, heading to the desert.
CBS Sports reported, ”Included among those players would have been relievers Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor, minor-league shortstop Nick Franklin and, likely, one of three minor-league starting pitching prospects: Right-hander Taijuan Walker, lefty James Paxton or lefty Danny Hultzen.”
The strength of the Mariners farm system, which is quite deep, is their starting pitching. The depth is led by a trio of high-ceiling pitchers, all of whom are within striking distance of the majors. Taijuan Walker, James Paxton and Danny Hultzen are currently the future of the Mariners, but for a franchise that has been in desperate need of an impact bat for years now, sacrificing some of that pitching for Upton is looking more and more viable.
The Mariners certainly weren’t set to part with all three. But trade talks most likely started with Walker. With their depth, the Mariners have enough leverage to deny Walker in any deal if they choose, and instead dangle one of their lefties, Paxton or Hultzen.
While both lefties are solid pitching prospects, and both could be in the majors by the end of 2013, they’re not Walker. Including one of them instead of Walker could possibly have necessitated the need for the other to be included as well, or one of the Mariners top hitting prospects.
The M’s have two infield prospects, Brad Miller and Nick Franklin, who have been playing shortstop in the minors, but could end up elsewhere in the majors. Both are potential future starters and could also be in the majors by the 2014 season, and both would be attractive to the Diamondbacks.
One player not involved is Mike Zunino, the third overall pick from last year’s draft. Zunino is the Mariners catcher of the future and should be ready for the majors within a year, and the Diamondbacks have Miguel Montero blocking the way. Most importantly, however, he’s not eligible to be traded until one year from the date he signed with the Mariners. There are loopholes around that rule (most notably making him a player to be named later), but it’s unlikely that he was in any potential deal.
It sounds like the package the Diamondbacks ultimately accepted involved a number of players and we know it involved one of the Mariners top pitching prospects (and maybe two) and one of their top hitting prospects. In addition, it likely also included a number of middle and lesser prospects, which could have come in any combination of players, depending on who the Diamondbacks desired.
We may never find out exactly who was in this deal, but the two sides are still talking, and if the Mariners can make Upton change his mind, we could see the Diamondbacks completely replenish their farm system with the completion of this deal.