Melvin Upton Jr. is like the ice cream cone you purchase from Costco. Sure, you weren't expecting to treat yourself, but for that price? You'll take it.
With a flexible mindset, the Blue Jays were able to improve their roster for an affordable price. Improved outfield defence will help prevent runs, and Toronto will now carry some flexibility in case Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders depart in free agency. An addition to the outfield was not a major need, but it makes plenty of sense to take advantage of a bargain.
In terms of defensive runs saved (DRS), Toronto's corner outfielders have been below average this season. In addition, Michael Saunders has a reputation for being injury prone, and Jose Bautista just came off the disabled list. It makes plenty of sense to give these players a ton of days off from playing the field.
Upton Jr. is not just a rental, as he carries an extra year of control that the team can use to its advantage. As a result, this closely resembles the trade that brought Ben Revere to the team last season. Revere received plenty of playing time for the Blue Jays down the stretch, before being dealt in the offseason for Drew Storen. It's safe to say that flipping Revere did not work out well for either side, but the process remains sound. Since Upton Jr. is so affordable, Toronto should have plenty of trade partners if they wish to move him this offseason.
Let's take a quick look at what Upton Jr. is capable of:
Although he rarely plays centre field these days, he remains one of the most athletic corner outfielders in all of baseball. Expect plenty of power, speed, and strikeouts, which should provide a suitable skill set for the bottom of the order.
Upton Jr.'s offensive production is right around league average this season. His power numbers will likely decline, but a move to the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre will help offset this. He is stronger against left-handed pitchers, and will likely draw out of the lineup against tough righties. When he isn't starting, he can be an asset as a late-game defensive replacement or pinch runner.
Heading into tonight's action, the Jays sit three games back of Baltimore for the division lead. The Orioles were a rumoured destination for Upton Jr., so this deal stops a division rival from addressing an area of need.
Look out Baltimore: the Blue Jays got your player, and they're coming for your division lead.
In Related News:
Upton will play vs. lefties with Smoak mostly playing vs. righties per Gibbons #BlueJays— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) July 26, 2016
Melvin Upton Jr. is not in tonight's Blue Jays starting lineup; he'll be available off the bench assuming he gets back from Buffalo in time— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) July 26, 2016
Blue Jays option Ryan Tepera to triple-A Buffalo to make room on 25-man roster for Melvin Upton Jr.— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) July 26, 2016