Mailbag: Why isn’t anyone talking about Justin Upton and the Mets?

BaronMichael Caruso: What’s the deal with Upton? Isn’t he more of a Sandy-type player? Have the Mets expressed any interest in him?

The Mets wanted Upton at the trade deadline, and were actually waiting for Padres GM AJ Preller to give the OK on July 31, but it never came which led them to acquire Yoenis Cespedes, Sandy Alderson explained earlier this year.

But at the time, the need in the outfield was different, mostly because the Mets might not have been fully prepared to commit to Michael Conforto in left field.

Now they are.

And, the Mets have Curtis Granderson in right field for two more years, and they wouldn’t sign Upton to be in a platoon – that’s one expensive right field solution.

So Upton is probably not a fit for the Mets on paper anymore, as he profiles as a corner outfielder. The Mets need a centerfielder, but he has never played center in his big league career. He’s also a league-average defender at best at a corner position – putting him in an unfamiliar role in a big ballpark might devalue him and hurt the team in the process, whether its with the Mets or another club.

He’s also a very strange hitter.

His career marks are obviously very enticing. He has an .825 career OPS and he’s only 28. He’s consistent against both left-handers and right-handers, with a little more power coming against southpaws. He’s got some speed, which of course is something the Mets lack. His final lines – year after year – suggest he’s consistently an above average producer at the plate, he’s hit 25 or more home runs in each of the last three years, and he still has plenty of prime seasons left.

But he’s been prone to some really deep funks over the last couple of years. It happened in Atlanta in 2014, and San Diego in 2015. Last year, he hit under .200 with next to no production for two months in the middle of the season, and had a power drought for the final four months of the 2014 season.

emailThat’s not to say Upton’s bat wouldn’t be valuable for the Mets. Every player slumps – that’s just baseball.

He’s still young and very much in his prime, and those slumps could be flukes, for sure. It’s worth noting Petco Park is not the easiest place to hit in, nor is Turner Field for that matter either. Citi Field might be a fairer park than it once was, but it’s not exactly Chase Field, and the parks in the division are not exactly hitter-friendly, either.

Now that the outfield market is becoming defined with Jason Heyward’s deal, Upton seems poised to get a similar deal in terms of years. All things being equal, it’s hard to see the Mets committing to a player for such a long term, and with Upton, all is far from equal, since he’s not a natural fit to begin with.

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4 responses to “Mailbag: Why isn’t anyone talking about Justin Upton and the Mets?”

  1. He would probably hit well in Cincinnati if they could find a place for him. Wanting to trade Bruce. No fit with the Mets.


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