Justin Upton doesn't have a no-trade clause. So if you're thinking about that tweet from three years ago, it's irrelevant. Guess what? Brandon Belt agrees with him. So does Hunter Pence. The ball really does travel like crap here. He's right.
This comes up now because we have a pair of baseball writers trying to figure out what the Giants could/should/might give up for the younger Upton. He's coming off a nice season, and he's only 27. Of course, the age is less important when you consider that he's a free agent after the season. It's not like the Giants would have a chance to dream on his potential. Unless they love him -- nine-figure love him -- this would be a mercenary move.
That makes it hard to fall in love with the idea of trading for him. The Braves are in some weird semi-contend mode, so they're going to ask for a hefty return. As in, prospects. Not Jean Machi. The price of 150 games of Upton would be steep, probably because the idea of him in the middle of the Giants is so tantalizing. Mark Bowman of MLB.com took a look at what the Giants might be able to offer:
Kyle Crick, Tyler Beede and Adalberto Mejia headline a list of pitching prospects San Francisco could include in a deal for Upton. The Giants do not match up well with the Braves in terms of position-player prospects.
Beede would have to be a player to be named later, considering that he was just drafted, but the idea is simple. The Giants have a plethora of intriguing young pitchers. The Braves might be interested in that sort of thing.
Except, the Braves might want something a little more than speculative deals for young pitchers. They might want some of those fancy position-player prospects that Bowman was asking about. Jim Bowden can help the Giants get around that, see, because he has a mock trade of his own:
... it's unlikely the (Giants) could get Upton without giving up both Crick and Panik.
If it makes you feel better, fans of the other teams probably dislike their deals just as much. Bowden is anticipating that, one year or not, Upton will bring at least one top prospect back from the other team, along with someone who is much more than a throw-in.
Before we continue, it's probably a good idea to project Joe Panik's career path. He will probably never be an All-Star. His ceiling is somewhere between "pretty okay" and "mostly okay." Even as he deserves praise for stabilizing a nightmare position and helping the Giants win the freaking World Series somehow, my precious Bill Mueller comp is something of a best-case scenario. Right now, Panik looks like a player who needs to hit .300 if he's going to be anywhere close to above-average. He doesn't look like a player who should prevent his team from picking up better players.
Before we continue, it's also probably a good idea to project the career path of every Giants pitching prospect. Almost all of them will fail. That's not because they're worse than other prospects; that's just the nature of prospects in general. Most of them will never be more valuable than they are right now as trade chips.
Trading both of them might make sense in some alternate scenario, but here's what I keep coming back to: one year. One year, then poof. The Giants would be trading 12 potential years from their young players for a year of Upton, and they'd also be giving up their starting second baseman, too. That had better be one helluva year.
It's not like Upton has been having MVP-type seasons, either. FanGraphs has him at two to four wins above replacement since 2012, with Baseball-Reference having him at two or three wins. That's valuable. It isn't exchange-your-last-few-trade-chips-to-get-this-guy-for-a-year. You're thinking of the Upton a few years ago. You're thinking of his potential. That's not what a team would actually get, though. They get one year and the ability to negotiate with him exclusively.
That's probably not enough to ship off Crick and Panik. I love Justin Upton the concept, but I don't think the Giants have much of a shot. Those mock trades do a good job of explaining why. Too much to give up, even if the Braves would be right to ask for it.