The Orioles have spoken with the Padres about outfielder Melvin Upton, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). The deal under discussion would send righty Ubaldo Jimenez to San Diego, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links).
An agreement isn’t close at present, per Rosenthal, who says that the Friars are also seeking a prospect to make something happen. Presumably, the struggling Jimenez would help offset Upton’s salary, perhaps paving the way to the acquisition of a useful minor league asset. Baltimore owes Jimenez $13MM this year and $13.5MM for 2017, while Upton is on the books for $15.45MM currently and $16.45MM next season.
While Upton has turned around his career over the last two years with San Diego, his big salary obviously serves to weigh down his trade value. Even if he’s been worth nearly what he’s owed of late, it’s a large chunk of change for any team to take on. Jimenez, meanwhile, has followed up on a useful 2015 with a dreadful start to his 2016 season. He owns a 7.38 ERA over 81 2/3 innings, with 111 hits and 50 walks leaving him with a 1.971 WHIP.
We’ve covered several stories tonight that seem to be merging with these reports. The O’s just lost Joey Rickard to the DL, where he joins Hyun Soo Kim. And the Padres were said to be advising rival organizations that a deal involving Upton was nearing completion.
Baltimore has made clear that starting pitching is its priority, but the recent injuries seem to have opened another need. It is worth mentioning that the Pads could help in the pitching department, too, as the sides are said to have discussed righty Andrew Cashner.
Should a trade come to pass between the clubs, Upton could take the lion’s share of the time in left until Kim returns, at which point they’d likely split the action. Upton could also potentially spell Adam Jones in center and deepen the team’s late-inning defensive options with the lumbering Mark Trumbo currently manning right.
For San Diego, moving Upton represents more than just a chance to acquire yet more young assets. The team is also in need of carving out some MLB time for a pair of prospects — Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot — who are pushing for an opportunity. (Jason Martinez of MLBTR and Roster Resource recently broke down the case for Renfroe.)