The Pirates have interest in Justin Upton, but won't strike a deal for him quite yet, Jon Morosi tweets.
#Pirates interested in Justin Upton, but they will prioritize an infielder if Jordy Mercer is out for extended period. Holding pattern now.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 20, 2015
If Mercer's injury is serious, that certainly throws a wrench into things. In the short term, I like the idea of promoting Alen Hanson to take his place, but I'm not sure Hanson or Jung-Ho Kang ought to be a regular shortstop for the rest of the season. The same goes for Josh Harrison once he returns.
Anyway, I'd love for the Pirates to pursue Upton if the price were right. He'd be a clear upgrade. The problem, though, is establishing what that price should be. Upton isn't as good as I hoped he'd be a few years ago -- as Rany Jazayerli recently noted at Grantland in an excellent article about what a mess the Padres have become, Upton is both good and disappointing at the same time. And, of course, he's only a rental.
Projection systems suggest Upton should be half a win, or maybe a full win, better than Gregory Polanco down the stretch. I'd lean closer to a full win, given that ZiPS forecasts some improvement from Polanco that might or might not come, and given that adding Upton would also improve the Pirates' depth as well as their starting outfield. He would also, obviously, be available to them in the playoffs.
That win is certainly worth paying for, but I wouldn't want the Bucs to go overboard and give up, say, Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, or Josh Bell. The Padres paid heavily to get Upton in the first place (they gave up two really good prospects in Max Fried and Mallex Smith, plus a competent everyday infielder, Jace Peterson), and Upton is a big name. Given all that, it's unclear whether they'll be willing to give him up for the sort of price the Pirates ought to be willing to pay, or whether they might get a better offer from someone else.