The Padres and D-backs front-office teams touched base about a possible trade involving Upton, according to a baseball source, but were unable to find a match because the player the D-backs are most interested in acquiring, third baseman Chase Headley, will not be traded.
At the same time, the Padres have no interest in Jason Kubel, the source said, because of their commitment to left fielder Carlos Quentin, who signed to a four-year, $37 million contract extension late last year. Kubel, who led the D-backs with 30 home runs and 90 RBIs last season, played primarily left field in his first year in the National League in 2012, and scouts believe that is his best position if he remains in the NL.
After signing Cody Ross to a three-year, $26 million contract two weeks ago, the D-backs have four outfielders who have started on pennant-winning teams — Upton, Kubel, Ross and Gerardo Parra. They also have said that they believe rookies Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock and major league-ready, and Eaton showed well in his September call-up.
Because both Eaton and Pollock have options remaining, the D-backs do not need to make a move to create roster space or playing time, although Eaton seems to have accomplished about all he can in the minor leagues after hitting .375 with 47 doubles and 44 stolen bases while playing at Class AAA Reno almost all of 2012.
The 25-year-old Upton, who played most of last season with a left thumb injury, also has drawn interest from Texas, Seattle and Atlanta. The Braves signed Upton’s brother, B.J., to a five-year, $75.25 million free-agent deal this winter.
Upton is set to make $38.5 million over the next three years.
Kubel, who has one year and $7.5 million remaining on his contract, could be of more interest to an American League team. The Orioles inquired about him at the winter meetings, and Kubel has 14 home runs and 49 RBIs in 133 at-bats at U.S. Cellular Field, the home of the White Sox.