Is it time to bring Melvin Back?
He certainly had some magical moments in a Padres’ uniform.
Take a look for yourself.
On Saturday evening, Buster Olney of ESPN reported that former Padre, Melvin Upton Jr., would not make the Blue Jays’ opening day roster. Upton Jr., who hit .256/.304/.439 with a 1.4 WAR in the first half of 2016 in San Diego, slashed an underwhelming .196/.261/.318 in 165 plate appearances as a Blue Jay last season. He entered camp this year expecting to platoon in the outfield in Toronto. Apparently, though, the Blue Jays did not really like what they saw from Upton Jr. this spring. He hit just .194 in 36 spring training at bats while striking out ten times, and from the way it sounds, it doesn’t seem like he is in the Blue Jays’ plans.
A little while after Buster Olney broke the Upton Jr. news, Jon Heyman tweeted that the Blue Jays were open to offers for the 32-year-old:
Jays r listening on Melvin Upton. Among teams that make sense: tigers, o's, rays, giants
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) April 1, 2017
Look, I know this might sound like a crazy idea to some (If you follow me on Twitter you know I’m one of Upton Jr’s biggest fans). But I have an idea where Melvin Upton Jr. should be traded to:
The San Diego Padres.
Okay, okay. Before you yell at me calling me crazy, consider this: The Padres have only three “true” outfielders on their Opening Day roster: Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, and Travis Jankowski. Arguably, Margot shouldn’t even be starting 2017 in the big leagues. First off, he didn’t dominate Triple-A last year. He battled a knee injury through camp and missed a few weeks… plus, if he is down in the minors for just 24 days this season the Padres will gain an extra year of Margot before he is eligible for free agency. Allen Cordoba and Luis Sardinas are the other two players on the OD roster who *could* play outfield, but they do not have much experience at all. They also have FOUR (!!) catchers. The Padres could use a reliable outfielder right now… is there one in the organization?
Well, not really.
Alex Dickerson, placed on the 10-day DL on Saturday with a bad back, is going to need a whole lot more than ten days to recover from his back injury. According to Dennis Lin of the UT, Dickerson is scheduled to be re-evaluated in mid-April. Back injuries never seem to really go away, so can we really bank on the Poway native being back at Petco anytime soon? He is a whole Spring Training behind his counterparts… which means he is going to have to play in a pretty healthy amount of rehab games to get ready to play against MLB competition. Best case scenario, he is cleared for games in mid-May. Knowing the Padres, though, it probably is more likely he is MLB-ready by early June (if he is ready at all).
Jabari Blash, to many people’s surprise, is not on the Opening Day roster. He dominated the Cactus League (power-wise) with seven bombs, but only hit .241 and struck out in nearly half of his at bats (26 times in 58 at bats)… He also didn’t exactly torch the PCL following his demotion last year, so I’m sure the Padres would like to see some better results in the opening weeks of 2017.
Franchy Cordero is an interesting prospect, but he’s only 22 and has only 258 at bats above A-ball.
After Cordero, there ain’t many options who can come up and platoon at all the outfield spots…. Colin Cowgill? Rafael Ortega? No thanks.
Trading for former fan-favorite Melvin Upton Jr. would give the Padres a great excuse to send Margot back down to the minors early this season to a) gain an extra year of control and b) get Margot those two+ weeks of at bats that he missed during camp.
It would be a great story in a season that is expected to be rough, no? As weird as it might sound, having Melvin Upton Jr. would give fans another reason to come back to the ballpark. He enjoyed his time in San Diego, too.
Thank you to the @Padres organization, fans and teammates for all the support and the opportunity. I enjoyed everything about my time in SD
— Melvin Upton Jr. (@MelvinUptonJr) July 26, 2016
Following the first half of 2016, it’s pretty hard to find a Padres fan who has a negative opinion on the man formerly known a “Bossman Jr.” It would be pretty cool to see Mr. Redemption, Melvin Upton Jr., back at the place where he revived his career with plays like this:
In terms of Melvin Upton Jr’s salary, the Padres are still on the hook for a heavy majority of the final year of his contract. At the time of the trade, the Padres were going to pay all but $5 million of Upton’s remaining $22.5 million. This year they’re looking at owing him $11.45 million:
— Jeff Sanders (@sdutSanders) February 18, 2017
So it’s not like re-acquiring Melvin is going to break the bank by any means. This is his contract year, which means he’ll be pretty motivated to show that the first half of 2016 was the real Melvin Upton Jr., not the second half. There’s nothing wrong with having a fourth outfielder with speed. Who knows, if he can perform like he did last year, maybe he has a little bit of value going into the trade deadline again. Think of how Kelly Johnson always seems to flipflop from the Braves to other teams and then back again. It could be the same situation with the Padres and Upton, just a little less extreme.
An Upton Jr. trade also would not really cost any meaningful prospects or players. It seems like the Blue Jays would be fine giving him away for little to nothing.
For at least the first few months of 2017, logistically wise, Melvin Upton Jr. makes sense….
— John (@Friar_Faithful) July 26, 2016