Why say no to Justin Upton?
Jul 6, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) tags out San Diego Padres left fielder Justin Upton (right) on a caught stealing attempt during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
There are two sides to every story, and Upton is no different.
One concern any team should have with Upton is the fact that it would take a significant contract that has the possibility of turning into an unmovable albatross if bad luck or injuries strike. Plus, there is the Jim Crane factor with the budget for Astros player salaries and the constraints he could put on general manager Jeff Luhnow. Even though Upton is arguably entering his prime years, it may become troublesome to add the necessary pieces to the team later on if team ownership isn’t in the mood to spend money.
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There is also the issue of Upton’s strikeout tendencies. In 2015, Upton finished 14th out of all qualifying hitters in highest strikeout percentage with 25.6%. It was 26.7% in 2014 and 25.0% the season before that one. And the Astros Achilles heel tends to be the excessive strikeouts. So it could be more of the same issues that plagued the lineup in 2015 going into 2016. It is either Crush City or Whiff City for the Astros the past few seasons and Justin Upton would certainly enforce that image.
It is also arguable that the Astros could use that money more wisely in keeping Rasmus at a cheaper price and addressing other areas of need. This baseball team does have issues, and those need to be addressed for them to take that next step. You even have Marisnick, who is arguably similar to Upton regarding defense.
All the above concerns will need to be taken into consideration. There is inherent risk in all big name free agent signings. But as it was stated earlier, the benefits of adding Justin Upton could be too good to ignore. He would not only add another potent bat to the Astros lineup, but he would also be a signal that the organization isn’t afraid to spend. That would be encouraging sign for both present and future free agents. And at this point in time for the Astros the risk may be well worth it.
**Statistics are provided by Fangraphs.com**