Justin Upton's Trade Value

As the other Justin Upton thread was getting pretty long, this can serve as an overflow thread if people want. People are also obviously welcome to dismiss this post entirely if they want. However, as I was reading all of the comments about Upton, it was shocking just how wide the split seamed to be. There were plenty of people who were willing to sell the proverbial farm to get Upton, others who didn't want him at all and just about a hundred other opinions that floated somewhere in between. For this reason, I just wanted to take a second to look at the actual trade value that a player like Upton has right now.

Upton's Value

Over the past three seasons, Upton has averaged 3.6 rWAR with a peak of 5.7 and a low of 1.4. He has averaged 4.7 fWAR with a peak of 6.4 and a low of 3.0. With three full seasons remaining on his deal, I think it is realistic to say that he'll average 4.5 wins per season. I think this is fair for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's between the two different averages that he has put up over the last 3 years. It's closer to Fangraps' calculation and, while it's a bit below his average, he's not playing all that well this year and there are concerns about his shoulder. Also, it's important to remember that 4.5 WAR is still a really good average for 3 seasons. It's tough to do and would require at least one and probably two monster years from Upton. With 77 games left on the season, even at a 4.5 win pace, Upton would only be worth about 2 wins from here on out. Over the remainder of his contract, that means that he'd be worth roughly 15.5 wins. at $5M per win, that gives him a total value of $77.5M. That is a lot.

Upton's Salary

This is where I think a big part of the disconnect between the posters comes from. Because Upton's deal was one of the templates for Andrew McCutchen's deal (which almost everybody agrees was a very affordable contract) people assume the same can be said for Justin Upton. However, Upton has already played his "cheap" seasons under this deal. His salary for the remaining 3.5 years isn't really all that cheap anymore. From here on out, Upton's contract will pay him $41.6M. This is also a lot. This means that Upton's surplus value is going to be "only" about $35.9M.

The Return

A lot of names have been thrown around as possible trade chips. Just to make it a little easier to reference, I'm going to put them into a list. I'm going by BA's midseason top-50 I'm using John Sickels' midseason review for players in the 50-100 range. For graded prospects, I'm just using my best judgement which is hardly infallible.

Gerrit Cole: Top-10 Pitching Prospect ($26.7M)

Jameson Taillon: 11-25 Pitching Prospect ($18.9M)

Starling Marte: 25-50 Hitting Prospect ($18.1M)

Alen Hanson: 25-50 Hitting Prospect ($18.1M)

Josh Bell: 50-100 Hitting Prospect ($10.4M)

Luis Heredia: 50-100 Pitching Prospect ($7.9M)

Jeff Locke: B-Grade Pitching Prospect ($7.3M)

Justin Wilson: B-Grade Pitching Prospect ($7.3M)

Robbie Grossman: B-Grade Hitting Prospect ($5.5M)

Gregory Polanco: B-Grade Hitting Prospect ($5.5M)

Alex Dickerson: B-Grade Hitting Prospect ($5.5M)...this one might require a bit of a leap but he was a C+ coming into the year and is now hitting .300 with an .800 OPS and he's been white hot for the past 6 weeks, so it's not totally out of the question.


All things considered, I was surprised to see how many people were willing to do whatever it takes to get Upton. Obviously, this is all base on my own math and estimations (which could easily be debated) but by my calculations, Upton is worth $35.9M at this point. I'm not trying to pick on anybody but just a couple of proposals I saw were Heredia/Marte/Hanson/Grossman/Locke ($56.9M), Taillon/Marte/Polanco ($42.5M) and Taillon/Marte ($37M). All of these would be overpays by these numbers. Now because of Upton's name, age and "Face of the Franchise" factor, you might have to overpay. However, from a Pirate fan's point of view, I don't want to be the team that overpays for a guy who has issues with his shoulder, is in the middle of a very mediocre year and whose team seems to be aggressively trying to deal him with 3 years left on his contract just a year removed from a great year. Under these circumstances, I'd try to come in a bit under value. If you were asking me, which of course nobody was, I offer Taillon/Grossman/Polanco/Dickerson ($35.4M). If you are in the camp that thinks Dickerson is a C-Prospect rather than a B-Prospect, it would hurt the value of the deal, but if Grossman or Polanco could work their way on to the back end of a top-100 list (I realize that it doesn't really just go by analyst rankings) it would increase the value. Anyway, that's my take on it. If we could get Upton for something close to my offer, I'd jump at it. If the D-Backs want somebody to overpay, I'd rather let another team do that while the Pirates try to upgrade their team elsewhere. So that's my take on things...

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bucs Dugout

You must be a member of Bucs Dugout to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bucs Dugout. You should read them.

Join Bucs Dugout

You must be a member of Bucs Dugout to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bucs Dugout. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.