Whether Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton has ever been shopped, dangled or just plain dropped onto the trade market by his hometown team is not certain. But going back to read all the rumors
you'll find that the 25-year-old slugger whose talents can be as frustrating as unfathomable, has been "available" since Nov. 15, 2010.
That's when first-year D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said, "I'm open to listening on anybody. We got more hits on Upton and [Stephen] Drew. They're difficult to move, but sometimes to make your club better, you have to move good players. You never know when a deal might present itself."
A little more than two years -- and a lot more fact-fueled rumors than you can count -- later, here are four theoretical deals that might present themselves at this week's Winter Meetings in Nashville. MiLB.com put together these proposals for Upton, who signed a six-year contact extension seven months before Towers was hired in September 2010 and is perhaps as underappreciated in Arizona as he is overvalued in other corners of the country.
A veteran National League scout whose team is not making phone calls on Upton (at least not currently) agreed to evaluate.
: Left-handed pitchers Drew Smyly
and Andy Oliver
and outfielder/third baseman Nick Castellanos
Analysis: Smyly, if he can stay healthy, gives the D-backs another strong option for a five-man rotation that is led by Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill and the post-Tommy John surgery Daniel Hudson. Oliver, who has struggled in callups to the Majors, probably wouldn't be hurt by a change of scenery. Castellanos, whom Detroit has shifted to the outfield, would give Arizona the left-side infield help it seeks. MLB.com's No. 10 prospect has the bat to play any position.
Scout's take: "Detroit's package is the worst because I'm not an Oliver guy at all. It's not enough for Arizona."
Tampa Bay Rays
: Right-handed pitcher Chris Archer
, left-handed pitcher Blake Snell
and shortstop Hak-Ju Lee
Analysis: Archer could join the big league rotation right away, while Snell, a 2011 first-round Draft pick, has yet to pitch above short-season ball. Lee, who excelled at Double-A in 2012, would give the organization another potential shortstop of the future to pair with its own Chris Owings. MLB.com's No. 32 prospect, Lee may be slightly ahead of Owings developmentally. They would be the top candidates to replace Drew, whom Towers shipped to Oakland last August.
Scout's take: "This deal could be right if Arizona believes the shortstop is a regular."
: Right-handed pitcher Julio Teheran
, left-handed pitcher Sean Gilmartin
and shortstop Tyler Pastornicky
Analysis: MLB.com's No. 24 prospect, Teheran has pitched at Triple-A Gwinnett two years running and would join a system that already includes elite-level peers Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs (not to mention Pat Corbin), all of whom are Major League-ready. Gilmartin is a lefty with a lower ceiling, while Pastornicky, who turns 23 this month, is a more ready-made option than the Rays' Lee.
Scout's take: "The second-best deal for Arizona would be based on how they evaluate Pastornicky vs. Hak-Ju Lee since the pitching offered by Atlanta and Tampa is pretty close. And if [getting] a possible starting shortstop back is essential, then it would come down to which shortstop they think is better."
: Left-handed pitcher Martin Perez
, right-handed pitcher Cody Buckel
and third baseman Mike Olt
Analysis: Like Bauer and Skaggs, Perez had mixed results in his first Major League action this year. Buckel, something of Bauer's protégé, finished the season at Double-A and needs more seasoning. Olt, MLB.com's No. 16 prospect, would be the linchpin of the deal since he provides Upton-like longball ability at a position (third base) that remains unsettled for the D-backs. And it's hard to imagine Towers wouldn't insist on his inclusion if the Rangers are reluctant to let go of one of their shortstops, Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar.
Scout's take: "The Rangers' deal may be the best due to Olt's power, but it's a lot to give up."