TORONTO- It seems that the Toronto Blue Jays have already started their shopping spree prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline. The Blue Jays acquired OF Melvin Upton Jr. from the San Diego Padres for RHP prospect Hansel Rodriguez and cash considerations. The Padres will pay $17 million of the $22 million remaining of Upton’s current contract through 2017.
Obviously when evaluating this type of deal, many would look at the production and value of players like Upton and the projectivity of the non-proven prospects. Looking at this trade, Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins took an intelligent approach with this deal. This trade doesn’t necessarly mean that Upton is going be a star like Josh Donaldson, but he does add a lot of value in depth, speed and defense going forward. Plus the Padres have to eat up most of Upton’s salary and only gave up one prospect. That is a huge bonus for the Blue Jays.
It’s been an up and down rollercoaster ride for Upton, but he is having a bounce back season in 2016 with a .256 average with 16 homers and 45 RBIs. The 31-year old outfielder is now the team’s leader in steals (20) and outfield assists (8).
Upton is a decent addition for the Blue Jays in many ways. He’s a tremendous defensive player who can play all three outfield positions. Upton also brings flexibility in the lineup when Jose Bautista need some time as their designated hitter. Upton also adds speed to the roster with 20 stolen base. Upton gives the Blue Jays another bat who can excel well against left-handed pitching, as he has a .913 OPS against lefties this season. Although Upton has been playing everyday throughout his career, he is expected to play a complementary role.
Upton could also add some insurance in case Bautista and Michael Saunders walk away as free agents. Kevin Pillar was the remaining outfielder under control for the Blue Jays, but with the addition of Upton, this means that Atkins only have to fill out one spot in the outfield.
The Blue Jays are not done yet. Now that the offence and defense is set, Atkins can now focus on pitching help. According to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, the Blue Jays are going to be in on everybody. Although the market for starting pitching is really high, there are a lot of relievers available that caught Atkins’ eyes. After all pitching is the key to success.