Was Mariners Offer an Overpay?
Now that we have a pretty good idea of what the Mariners offered for Upton — a package of Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush, and Stephen Pryor — the question on most people’s minds is whether that was a good deal for the Mariners had Upton not rejected the trade. Or, should we be happy that Upton said no, as some people suggested after the pieces were reported?
I wrote up my thoughts on the relative value of Upton versus Walker/Franklin over at FanGraphs this morning. While some are going to compare it to the Erik Bedard trade, the reality is that this isn’t anywhere close to that kind of deal, because trading a pitching prospect for a hitter is a lot different than trading a hitting prospect for a pitcher. While people tend to simply lump all “prospects” into the same basket, that’s simply not an accurate way of viewing their expected future value, and while Taijuan Walker might have serious upside, he also comes with huge amounts of risk.
In the piece, I never suggest that this was anything other than a good deal for Arizona, and conversely, I don’t think this was any kind of bargain for the M’s. This was something like paying market value for a +4 win player, just like signing Josh Hamilton to a 4 year, $100 million contract with some vesting options would have been paying market value for a +4 win player. Either could have gone badly. No player’s performance is any kind of future guarantee, whether big leaguer or guy working his way up the ladder. Walker could turn out to be a beast, and Upton might never develop any further than he has already.
But, this wasn’t some kind of absurd offer to try and save Jack’s job of desperation. Throw those comments in the trash where they belong. Upton is a very good player, and the Mariners offered up some very good prospects in order to get him. It’s not the end of the world if he doesn’t change his mind and accept the trade, since they’ll still have Walker, Franklin, Furbush, and Pryor in that case, but it’s also a trade I’d have been willing to make. It’s a high price, but it’s not too high of a price.