Larry Reynolds, the representative of free agent outfielder Justin Upton, tells Jon Heyman that his client is not interested in a short-term deal as things stand. (Twitter links.) While there’s been some buzz recently that the 28-year-old could be forced to take a pillow contract with an eye on re-entering the market next year, that seems not to be a present consideration.
Here’s the full quote from the veteran agent: “We are not considering shorter-term deals at this time. The goal has been and will continue to be a long term contract for Justin Upton.”
From my perspective, it would indeed be rather premature for Upton and his representatives even to entertain the idea of a pillow contract — let alone a deal that would promise away a few prime seasons and put Upton back on the market in his early thirties. As MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes argued entering the winter, a seven-year, $147MM contract seemed a reasonable outcome for the still-youthful, power-hitting Upton.
And it’s not yet clear that the situation has changed drastically. The two biggest free agent outfield pieces to sign thus far — Jason Heyward and Alex Gordon — went to clubs that probably weren’t ever going to factor in the market for Upton (or fellow top option Yoenis Cespedes). It’s arguable, then, that most of the plausible suitors for Upton entering the offseason still remain plausible landing spots.
That’s not to say that a short-term arrangement is out of the question. The qualifying offer hurts any free agent, and we’ve seen sluggers like Nelson Cruz forced to settle in the past. But Upton’s age and consistent production make him quite a different investment opportunity than was Cruz in the 2013-14 winter, when he was also coming off of a PED suspension.