Should the Phillies Call About Justin Upton?
Maybe Ruben Amaro is really willing to open the season with "double platoons" in his corner outfield spots, and really is really content with waiting until July to inject power and right-handed hitting in the batting order via a trade.
If not, he may have an out. A fun one, too.
The Diamondbacks, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, are again open to discussing trades with clubs for right fielder Justin Upton.
You'll remember that Upton, a 25-year-old righty, along with Cliff Lee were the subjects of false trade reports during the Winter Meetings.
Though Amaro called the report, by ESPN's Pedro Gomez, "absolutely and unequivocally false," it may behoove Amaro to give some truth to a future story.
Upton would fit nicely in the Phils aged and left-heavy lineup that struggles against southpaws. Upton has hit .273/.385/.459 against lefties the last three years.
He's hit 25 or more home runs twice in the last four years. He hit 31 in 2011.
That seems a step above the only other players reportedly on the Phillies radar, free agent Scott Hairston and LA Angel Vernon Wells. Neither are long-term solutions.
Hairston, 32, has hit .239/.298/.440 overall the past three years, with a .263/.308/.464 split against lefties. He's played in 130-plus games just once, in 2012, in his career.
Wells, 34, has struggled terribly since leaving Toronto in 2010, playing just over 200 games due to injury with the Angels and hitting 36 bombs and a .222/.258/.409 line.
Upton would also seem an upgrade from the Phillies likely Opening Day right fielder, Domonic Brown, who's hit an abysmal .208/.284/.302 against lefties in his career.
Brown has 12 home runs in 147 games in parts of three seasons in his career. His 5 in 56 games in a year ago make for a 162-game average of 14.
Upton has also proven more durable than Brown, missing just 6 games to injury the past two seasons. He played 150-plus games in both.
Knee pain cost Brown a month in the minors and parts of his post-call-up 2012. He reportedly underwent an MRI on both knees after the season.
Landing Upton could prove tricky.
Earlier this offseason, the Diamondbacks were originally interested in young, impact-level shortstops or third basemen for Upton. They've since traded for a shortstop, Didi Gregorious, likely turning their attention to third base.
In that deal with the Indians and Reds, though, the Diamondbacks dealt a right-handed pitcher they highly regarded, maybe giving the pitching-heavy Phillies an in.
To get Arizona's attention, they'd have to dangle a top young starter like Jessie Biddle, Jonathan Pettibone or Adam Morgan, all projected to be big-league ready by 2014, when current contracts for Roy Halladay and Kyle Kendrick expire.
Sacrificing the future of the rotation might be a risk, but so too is entering the season with Brown and Darin Ruf, the latter of whom will be a 26-year-old rookie with impressive minor league production that may not translate in the bigs.
This could well prove Amaro's last chance to fortify the outfield for 2013 and beyond.
Assuming, of course, he wants to in the first place.