In 2011, Justin Upton had an outstanding year; he hit .289/.369/.529 with 31 home runs and 88 RBI and finished fourth in NL MVP balloting, helping the Diamondbacks win the NL West.
This year? Not so much. Upton's numbers have declined significantly, to .264/.347/.388; he's been benched at times, leading to rumors there's a rift between him and manager Kirk Gibson, and further rumors that he's on the trading block.
Those rumors could be heating up as we learn from Fox Sports to which teams Upton can refuse to approve a deal:
Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton can block trades to four teams, major league sources told FOXSports.com: the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs.
It’s not known whether Upton would use the no-trade clause to block deals to those clubs. Often, players include high-revenue teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs in no-trade protection, thinking that those organizations are better positioned to offer financial inducements in an effort to convince the player to waive the clause.
Odd selection of teams. Many players want to go to the Red Sox or Yankees because of their sustained success and a good shot at a World Series ring, but Upton doesn't seem to like that idea. The Cubs have wound up on various no-trade lists for various reasons, but right now, they wouldn't likely be in the market for someone like Upton anyway.
That leaves Cleveland. The Indians are in the thick of both the AL Central race (four games out) and the wild-card mess in the AL (just one game behind the leaders, but there are seven teams with in 1½ games of the top spot there). Upton could perhaps be a big boost to the Tribe.
Maybe he'd go there anyway, if, as noted, the Indians would make it worth his while, although that might require renegotiating his current deal, which will pay him a total of $38 million between 2013 and 2015.
So it seems likely that Upton will stay put in Arizona. Whether that's to his, or the team's, benefit remains to be seen.