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What Would A Mets Trade For Justin Upton Look Like?

With recent news that the Mariners had a deal in place for Justin Upton before he turned it down, let's look at what the Mets would have to give up to acquire Upton.

Christian Petersen

When the report came out yesterday that Seattle had agreed to a trade with the Diamondbacks for Justin Upton — a trade that Upton rejected via his no-trade clause — my first reaction was to check and see what the prospect return was. Seattle would have surrendered shortstop prospect Nick Franklin, pitcher Charlie Furbush, pitcher Stephen Pryor, and one of Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, or Danny Hultzen.

The Mets would have to surrender Zack Wheeler, unless they were willing to trade Travid d'Arnaud. Since I find it unlikely they would trade the newly-acquired catcher, let's assume that Wheeler would be the centerpiece.

The second-best prospect in the deal was shortstop Nick Franklin, a player unlike anyone in the Mets' system. Franklin is 21 years old and in Triple-A, with the chops to play shortstop at the major league level. The closest thing the Mets have to Franklin would be Wilmer Flores, but he is not quite the prospect that Franklin is.

According to minor league guru John Sickels, Nick Franklin is a B+ prospect, and he had this to say about him:

I trust my eyes on this one, good tools across the board and the skills are in there. Is he a second baseman or a shortstop? I'd give him a chance at short. Needs another half-season in Triple-A following .243/.310/.416 line at Tacoma.

Sickels also gave Wilmer Flores a B+, so Flores is at least similar in value to Franklin, especially when one factors in that Arizona has already acquired two near-ready shortstops this offseason.

The other two names, Stephen Pryor and Charlie Furbush, are relievers. The Mets would probably have to give up something like Jenrry Mejia and Josh Edgin to match that value. These last two slots would be easy for the Mets to fill, as they are just filler-type guys.

If this is what the trade would look like, the Mets would surrender Wheeler, Flores, Mejia, and Edgin for Justin Upton. The question remains: Does this make sense for the Mets?

The Mets, a rebuilding team, would surrender a top-10 overall prospect, a very good hitting prospect, and two cost-controlled relief pitchers. They would receive three years of team control over Justin Upton, and over that span he would make $38.5 million.

In 2013, the Mets are unlikely to contend with or without Upton. The most optimistic projections have them around 80 wins, and that's without accounting for injuries. Upton's highest career single-season fWAR is his 2011 season in which he was worth 6.4 wins. So after subtracting any contributions Flores or Wheeler might make, and assuming another elite season from Upton, the Mets would be adding anywhere from 4-to-6 WAR in 2013. That would at best put them around 85-87 wins.

The important thing to remember here is that the Mets aren't just trading Flores and Wheeler, they would be trading 6 years of team control for each player, for three of Upton. If the Mets trade for Upton, they would have to probably make another move to even make the play-in game.

Keeping Wheeler and Flores means that they would both be hitting their first year of arbitration in either 2015 or 2016. The Mets could get major contributions from Wheeler, Harvey, d'Arnaud, and Flores without having to pay them anywhere near market value. This would coincide with the remaining dead-money coming off the books, so the Mets would have a surplus of money to spend, at least in theory.

If the Mets were closer to contention, a deal for Upton could make sense, but with the team a year or two away, I would hold onto my chips.