Justin Upton, OF, San Diego Padres, 27 years old.
2015 stats: .269/.351/.458, 14 HR, 46 RBI
Justin Upton has been one of the few bright spots on an otherwise incredibly underwhelming Padres team. However, that same team underachievement could lead to Upton wearing a new uniform come August 1st. The Padres are in freefall, they have lost 10 of their last 15 and each day they fall farther and farther behind in the wild card race. With Upton being a free agent and the Padres having fleeced the farm trying to put a contender together, general manager A.J. Preller might decide that instead of letting Upton walk he would rather try and at least get something in return. Upton’s power surge and decent average could attract quite a few teams if the Padres do become sellers at the deadline. That being said, they could pull a 2014 Royals and go on a ridiculous hot streak and get right back in the thick of things.
Potential suitors: Tampa Bay Rays, New York Mets, Los Angeles Angels
Of all the aforementioned teams the Rays are the most intriguing. The Rays have never been ones to trade away prospects, but they have been a surprising contender in the AL East. That is thanks in large part to their pitching, a staff headed by Chris Archer and one that is among the best in baseball even without Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly. That pitching staff is about to get even better with the return of Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi this month. The only thing the Rays could use at that point would be another bat to pair up with Logan Forsythe and the surprising Joey Butler. The Rays have abundant middle-infield talent in their farm system. They could likely put together a decent package to acquire Upton’s services. Since he will be a free agent next year the Rays really wouldn’t have to overpay either.
The more obvious name is the Mets, who are wasting their excellent pitching staff by failing to provide run support. The Mets are desperate for an impact bat, and Upton would be far cheaper than, say, Troy Tulowitzki.
The Angels too have problems. They have tried multiple options in left field, all to no avail. Upton could come in and give the offense a facelift immediately, and with the Angels trying to gain ground on the Astros, Upton’s bat would be a welcome reinforcement.