The Giants aren’t having the best offseason.
The club failed in its bid to retain third baseman Pablo Sandoval and is reportedly out of the running to land left-handed starter Jon Lester.
As such, the club is working on a contingency plan. The contingency plan’s name is Justin Upton.
That’s the current thinking, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:
“The Giants are in trade talks with the Atlanta Braves to acquire All-Star right fielder Justin Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson, according to three club officials with direct knowledge of the negotiations.”
The deal would fill two gaping holes for the defending World Series champions with Johnson slotting into Sandoval’s vacated third base position and Upton taking over in left field.
Upton, 27, would be the real prize if this deal were to come to fruition. He slugged 29 home runs and had a career-high 102 RBI last season for Atlanta to go along with a 132 OPS+, the second-best mark of his career.
In his eight-year career Upton has a .274/.354/.476 slash line to go along with 164 home runs and 96 stolen bases.
Upton will make $14.5 next season before hitting the open market as a free agent.
Given his track record and age, he could net up to $150 million in free agency. If the two sides can work out a deal, you can imagine San Francisco would attempt to lock Upton up before he got that chance.
Nightengale makes it pretty clear in his article that, while talks are ongoing, the general feeling is that a deal between the two clubs is a longshot.
The Giants aren’t terribly interested in taking on Johnson to acquire Upton and the Braves aren’t confident that San Francisco has the necessary prospects to lure Upton away.
Skepticism notwithstanding, the Giants inability to land big names in free agency coupled with the Braves confusing quasi-rebuilding/penny-pinching strategy makes this move seem possible; even if it is a longshot.
As is always the case at the Winter Meetings, every rumor – especially one that’s a longshot to begin with – should be taken with a grain of salt until it is official.