D-backs may consider offers for Upton
Right-handed power hitters are in short supply on the trade market.
That could change, however, if the Arizona Diamondbacks fall from contention.
At that point, the D-backs would consider offers for right fielder Justin Upton, according to major-league sources.
The team currently is preparing for all trade possibilities — buying, selling and veteran-for-veteran deals that would improve the club, sources said.
Arizona general manager Kevin Towers historically has been willing to discuss any player on his roster. However, a trade of Upton would become realistic only if the D-backs became outright sellers, which is hardly certain given the unsettled state of the NL West.
The division-leading Dodgers are without three injured regulars — center fielder Matt Kemp, right fielder Andre Ethier and shortstop Dee Gordon. The second-place Giants are concerned about two of their starting pitchers, right-hander Tim Lincecum and lefty Barry Zito.
The D-Backs entered Friday night’s play seven games out of first place in the West and 5 1/2 games back in the wild-card race. By comparison, the Milwaukee Brewers — a team that many expect to sell — were eight games out in the NL Central and 6 1/2 games back in the wild-card race.
If the Diamondbacks move closer to contention, their primary target will be a third baseman, sources said. If not, they also could move shortstop Stephen Drew, who recently returned from an ankle injury that sidelined him for more than 11 months, and third baseman Ryan Roberts, who has struggled this season after hitting 19 homers in 2011.
Upton, though, would be the big prize.
He has struggled this season and recently was booed at home after finishing fourth in the National League MVP voting a year ago. But he is only 24, and would be attractive to both contenders and non-contenders because he is signed at affordable salaries through 2015.
That long-term control would enable the Diamondbacks to ask for a monster package for Upton, who Towers previously discussed in trades shortly after becoming the team’s GM in Sept. 2010.
Upton’s contract guarantees him $6.75 million this season, $9.75 million next season, $14.25 million in 2014 and $14.5 million in ’15. His deal also includes a four-team no-trade clause.
In 2010, those teams were the Seattle Mariners, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals and Oakland Athletics. Since then, however, Upton has adjusted his list, a source said, but the teams that he currently can block are not known.
The New York Yankees, facing the loss of right fielder Nick Swisher in free agency, also could be among the teams interested in Upton. The addition of Upton would give them a replacement next season for right fielder Nick Swisher, a potential free agent, and a buffer against the possible loss of center fielder Curtis Granderson as a free agent after the ’13 season.
Upton entered Friday night’s play batting .266/.348/.378 with seven homers and 34 RBI. He hit .289/.369/.529 last season, finishing with 31 homers and 88 RBI.