- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
The four-prospect offer that the Seattle Mariners made for Justin Upton, built around pitcher Taijuan Walker, was thought by rival executives to be an extraordinary overture. Now that Upton has exercised his no-trade clause and Arizona looks to find another deal with another club, the Diamondbacks' challenge will be to find a similar deal -- at a time when looming trade possibilities may distract potential suitors.
There is an expectation that sometime in the next 11 months, two of the sport's great young stars will be available on the trade market. David Price has three seasons remaining before he reaches free agency, and rival officials believe that the Tampa Bay Rays will trade him in the forthcoming summer or next winter to get the maximum return. And the Miami Marlins have already sent signals that they are open to offers for Giancarlo Stanton, who has 93 home runs in his first 373 games in the big leagues and is only 23 years old.
So as teams like the Texas Rangers consider their alternatives, they must also weigh their desire to participate in the Price and Stanton sweepstakes down the road. The Rangers and other teams will consider this question: If they trade some of their better prospects for Upton now, would that undercut their chances of getting Price and Stanton later?
One evaluator believes that this is a factor in the current Upton sweepstakes.
"The Marlins will move Stanton at some point, whether it's before, during or after the 2013 season, and he's universally considered to be a better player because of his upside as a potential 50-home run monster," the evaluator said. "Upton is a really good player, but there are questions as to whether he can be a superstar; there are no such questions with Stanton -- and he's less expensive and under club control for four years as opposed to the three years of Upton. Remember, the Rangers are a pretty good team even without Upton, and he comes with a lot of questions, and that isn't the case with Stanton."
If Texas holds back, the Braves may be in the best position to land Upton, giving their ability to build an offer around their pitching, and given that they appear to have the payroll flexibility to add another chunk of salary.
The Braves could use a boost, because the Washington Nationals have built what is arguably the best team on paper. Their greatest weakness, it appeared, was in their bullpen, and now that they have signed Rafael Soriano, they have a strong relief corps to go along with a dominant rotation, a strong everyday lineup and a deep and talented bench. The Nationals are all in, writes Thomas Boswell. This signing illustrates the win-now mentality, writes Amanda Comak.
By the way: The perception in the industry was that the Nationals might have overpaid for Soriano -- but hey, it's their money, and again, agent Scott Boras got big dollars for a client when he appeared to be cornered.
There was a presumption among some officials that eventually, the Detroit Tigers would work out a deal with Soriano. But now that he's gone, Detroit's closer situation is assured of being one of the most interesting storylines of the spring. This team is built to win a World Series, but the Tigers have to identify a closer. Will it be Phil Coke, who thrived in the role in October, or maybe Bruce Rondon, the talented, hard-throwing reliever who has yet to throw a pitch in the majors? Will the Tigers sign a free agent with closing experience? We'll see.
Moves, deals and decisions
2. A Philadelphia Phillies reliever was among many who filed for arbitration.
5. As I wrote on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, the Dodgers are looking into the possibility of signing Scott Rolen, although he is just one of a number of players they are considering.
6. The Padres would like to resolve a TV impasse.
• Terry Francona and Theo Epstein fire back at their former employers in the manager's new book, writes Tim Britton.
• Wil Myers is excited to wear a new uniform.
• There are questions aplenty about the Twins, writes La Velle Neal.
• Bob Elliott wonders whether the Jays will have success with John Gibbons this time around.
And today will be better than yesterday.
Giancarlo Stanton and David Price are affecting the trade market for Justin Upton, writes Buster Olney.