Surprise team emerges in Justin Upton sweepstakes after LA Angels release

Justin Upton, LA Angels
Justin Upton, LA Angels / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Since Justin Upton has been released by the LA Angels, which happened on Friday, there has been an underwhelming but aggressive team reported to be in on the outfielder. That's the Minnesota Twins, who are serious about trying to improve their team.

The Twins made some big moves in the offseason--including signing top Angels free agent target Carlos Correa, as well as trading for slugger Gary Sanchez and defensive wizard Gio Urshela (who's shown offensive prowess in the past too). Now, they have interest in going after some more offensive upside in Upton.

Upton is injury-prone these days, and it's resulted in him not being what he once was. He does, however, still have a lot of power in his bat. Despite injuries limiting him to 89 games last season, he still hit 17 home runs. Hitting .225/.355/.483 (.838 OPS) against left-handed pitching in even what was an injury-plagued disaster last year, he has value as at least a platoon player even if he struggles overall.

The Angels will pay all of Justin Upton's '22 salary but the prorated minimum salary that the Twins will pay if signed.

That means that the LA Angels would pay nearly $28 million for Justin Upton to potentially rake off of left-handed pitching for the Minnesota Twins. This would of course be the case for any team that chooses to sign him.

Upton cleared waivers without any team being interested in picking him up because that would force them to take on that $28 million. They were smart in letting him pass through so they could go ahead and sign him for nearly nothing. It's disappointing for the Angels, but it's of their wrongdoing.

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The Halos should not have signed Upton for as much as they did. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but they at least made a mistake from the start in backloading his contract the way they did. Upton was impressive in 2017 and 2018 for the Halos, hitting 37 home runs, driving in 100 RBIs, and scoring 100 runs in 172 games (he was traded to Anaheim with 27 games left in 2017). He struggled with durability issues the next three years, however, which also affected his play significantly.