The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly traded for San Diego Padres outfielder Melvin Upton Jr., according to Ken Rosenthal.
B.J. Upton’s alter-ego returns to the American League East, where he began his career and played seven seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, before signing with the Atlanta Braves and being traded to the Padres.
It was reported late Monday night that the Blue Jays appeared to have overtaken the Baltimore Orioles and become front runners to land the 31-year-old. While the deal appears to be imminent, the cost remains unknown. Rosenthal reported that it could be a member of the Lansing Lugnuts involved in the deal.
The “financial terms” will be vital in this deal as Upton Jr. does not come with a friendly contract, especially for a team who has several key players hitting the open market in the coming season. Upton is making $15.45M this season and has $16.45M owed to him in 2017 to wrap up a five-year contract.
Upton has 16 home runs and 45 RBIs in 92 games this season and has put together a slash line of .256 / .304 / .439 with an fWAR of 1.5. He brings some speed to the table with 20 stolen bases in 25 attempts to a Blue Jays offence that ranks 12th in the American League in that category. Upton has been striking out plenty at a rate of 28.3% and his low walk rate of 6.1% would likely leave him more suitable for the 6-8 slots in the Blue Jays lineup.
The big question that Blue Jays fans will be wondering is where Upton fits in a lineup that already holds three prominent starting outfielders in Michael Saunders, Kevin Pillar, and Jose Bautista from left to right. What this move does do, is give them some more roster flexibility and keep another power bat away from the current AL East leaders over in Baltimore.
With Bautista returning from a nagging turf toe injury, the designated hitter position will likely belong to him more often than not now that there is a viable starting replacement in right field. Meanwhile, Edwin Encarnacion will likely continue to take reps at first base, bumping Justin Smoak slightly further down the depth chart.
How the newest member of Toronto will fit into his role will be difficult to break down until full ramifications of the trade are released. Stay tuned for further details and analysis on how it will all play out when Upton Jr. takes the field for the Blue Jays.