The thought hadn’t crossed my mind until I was reading an article on Bleacher Report about where the top free agents of 2016 could land. Karl Buscheck writes that the “top early fit” for Justin Upton would be the Houston Astros. With Evan Gattis, George Springer and Jake Marisnick all locked up for a few seasons, the outfield is potentially set. Yet, Colby Rasmus will be a free agent after the 2015 season, which could potentially leave a vacancy in whichever spot he fills this season.
Buscheck’s reasoning for the Astros signing Justin Upton next offseason, “There’s no way around it: The Houston Astros are trending upward. The club’s roster and minor league system are flooded with high-upside players, and adding an established veteran to the mix next winter is just what the Astros need. Even though he has eight years of big league experience, Justin Upton is just 27 years old. The left-fielder also has the kind of power that any team would want—especially one like the Astros who play in the hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park. Last season, the Astros’ home stadium was the eighth-best place to hit home runs, per ESPN’s Park Factor rankings.”
Upton is a right-hander, which plays well with the Crawford Boxes in left field. The “Bear Den” could quickly be renamed if Upton comes to town. Since 2009, Upton has averaged 24 home runs and 80 rbi per season, along with a .279 batting average and an impressive .357 on-base percentage. Those are solid numbers, and would complement the lineup very well. He’d certainly be an upgrade over Rasmus, but would also cost twice as much, at least.
While it’s nice to think about free agents that the Astros could land in the future, that would undermine all of the hard work that has gone into acquiring the right young players in recent years. Domingo Santana, while he struggled last season, is still only 22.
The question shouldn’t be “do we want to sign Justin Upton?” next winter. Most teams would love to have him. The question should be does Justin Upton fill a void that can’t be filled in-house in the near future? If the answer to that, long-term, is yes, then Justin Upton should be receiving not just one, but many calls from the Houston Astros front office next offseason. Luckily, we get to see how the 2015 season unfolds before making a final verdict on whether or not the Astros should make a push for the Upton brother not named Melvin.
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