Justin Upton on the block, but why?

Christian Petersen

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Justin Upton might be on the block this offseason. What are the Diamondbacks trying to do?

The Arizona Diamondbacks are up to something. They probably just want attention. And, well, it's working. November 7 is a pretty good time for these kinds of rumors to make waves. Ken Rosenthal, as he's wont to do, is starting everything.

Background: Comes from a family of baseball players. Makeup: Nothing too obvious, but a little rouge to make the cheekbones pop. Rosenthal breaks down the deal, saying that it's more likely to happen than not:

Major-league sources, however, say the team is again engaged in active discussions about Upton, and one estimates the chances of him playing elsewhere next season are "80-20."

The Diamondbacks need a shortstop, and Upton possibly could bring them a player such as the Rangers' Elvis Andrus.

Hello. I'm pretty lousy at figuring out trade values, so I can't tell who would come out on the worse end of a straight Upton-for-Andrus swap, but I think the Rangers would want more. Upton is signed for a year longer, but he had a down year at an easier-to-fill position. It's close enough to argue, at least.

Justin Upton rumors were all the rage this past summer, but after the Chris Young deal, it looked like the Diamondbacks were close to done for the offseason, at least with the big moves. Look at their projected lineup as it stands right now:

C - Miguel Montero
1B - Paul Goldschmidt
2B - Aaron Hill
SS - Cliff Pennington
3B - Chris Johnson
LF - Jason Kubel/Gerardo Parra
CF - Adam Eaton
RF - Justin Upton

And their rotation is filled with young pitchers:

Ian Kennedy
Wade Miley
Trevor Cahill
Tyler Skaggs
Patrick Corbin
Trevor Bauer

That's before counting Daniel Hudson, who could be back at some point in 2013. When you go over that list, there's exactly one name that sticks out: Chris Johnson. He did well enough after coming over from the Astros, hitting .286/.321/.503 in 147 at-bats. But the 27-year-old probably isn't a long-term solution, as his strikeout-to-walk ratio portends doom, or something like it.

Considering the Diamondbacks still have four good outfielders, it's not inconceivable that they'll trade from depth to address a potential weakness. Unless they could get a youngish third baseman, though, it wouldn't make a lot of sense. The D-backs don't need three top prospects for the 2016 team. They're looking to contend next season. And there aren't a lot of long-term/short-term combo third basemen out there, unless the Padres are willing to deal Chase Headley in a blockbuster with a division rival, which they probably aren't.

Anything's possible, and maybe Arizona is happy with Pennington, but they would flip him if they could get their hands on Andrus. Fair enough. Andrus is an excellent player. But the biggest reason to deal Upton right now is because he's under contract, which means the Diamondbacks could extract the maximum amount of value from another team. That would make sense for the Astros. I'm not sure it makes a ton of sense for the Diamondbacks.

One of these years, Justin Upton is going to explode into a baseball supernova, winning an MVP or two, or he's going to be a disappointing player. If the Diamondbacks are starting to suspect the latter, the Upton rumors make sense. Otherwise, it's hard to imagine how they improve the team by dealing him.

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