It’s been a popular opinion amongst LA Angels fans that as we move towards the end of the summer, Justin Upton should no longer be a part of the team’s future plans.
After the LA Angels inked Upton to an extension following the 2017 season, paying him an average salary of $21.2 million for five seasons. Upton’s 2019 season was over before it began. Derailed by injuries, fans have turned on Upton and want to trade him for quality pitching.
However, that might be an issue.
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Upton’s value is at an all time low. Pitchers have been able to tame Upton at the plate, and his defense provides a constant headache for Angels fans. While it’s true the Angels may be better off without him, it won’t be because of the prospect they get in return. In fact, the Angels may have to attach a prospect to Upton if they want a team to take on his entire salary for the next three seasons.
That being said, it still may be worth the prospect to move on from Justin Upton.
Make no mistake, Upton’s career isn’t down the drainage pipe yet. Part of the reason to trade him is his low batting average, high strikeout rate, and lack of defense just do not fit into the philosophy of the Angels. The fact that he can goes weeks being a constant nothing at the plate does not help his case either.
Trading Upton would also pave the way for a starting spot for Jo Adell right out of the gate. Adell is the type of player that is so good, Angels fans will find themselves falling in love again as soon as he debuts. Sure, he may still need a fake ID, but one could argue the potential of Adell’s greatness is far more valuable to this team than Upton’s mediocrity.
Obviously the biggest part of trading him would be the freeing up of money to address bigger needs. They could pick up the option on Kole Calhoun (or renegotiate a cheaper, longer deal), and Billy Eppler can focus the rest of their funds on perfecting his free agent class.
I was a huge fan of advocate for Upton’s contract and role on this team up to a month or so ago (that doesn’t make me dumb I swear). However, if I were to still say he was the best way for the Angels to spend money, that’d be a great big lie.
It’s time for Billy Eppler to put on his leather jacket and sunglasses, and stop being scared to make the big move. He can change the direction of the entire franchise with a great offseason, and that may just include trading away Justin Upton.