Angels’ Best Trade Deadline Deals: Justin Upton
The 2017 trade that brought Justin Upton to the Angels is, in a lot of ways, very similar to the Mark Teixeira trade.
Acquired from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for pitching prospects Grayson Long and Elvin Rodriguez, Upton was meant to help push the Angels into the postseason. While Upton didn’t really do much for the Angels that season, hitting just .245/.357/.531, he did manage seven home runs and 15 RBI in 27 games.
That was enough to convince Arte Moreno and Billy Eppler to keep him in the fold. Upton’s deal with the Tigers contained an opt-out clause, but the Angels had no intention of letting him exercise it, signing him to a five-year, $106 million deal.
The first year of that deal paid dividends, as Upton hit a solid .257/.344/.463 with 30 home runs and 85 RBI. However, in the two years since, it has turned into somewhat of an albatross deal for the Angels as injuries and struggles at the dish have held him to .187/.278/.364 over his last 81 games.
While the last two years may feel like this deal is a loss for the Halos, the cost to acquire him was minimal. Grayson Long was a solid prospect in the Angels system, but he made just one appearance for the Tigers organization before an injury derailed him and he ultimately retired in 2019. Elvin Rodriguez remains a solid prospect for the Tigers, but ranks outside of their top 30.
The future for Upton and the Angels remains to be seen, as he’ll need to turn around his 2020 season to create any faith that he can be serviceable for the next two years of his contract.