Justin Upton rejects Mariners deal, still could be short-timer in Arizona

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist

The Mariners' quest to improve their offense took a hit when Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton rejected a proposed deal recently that would have sent him to Seattle for a multi-player package.

But even after this, Upton appears a short-timer in Arizona.

“Something is going to happen somewhere with them,” one industry source with knowledge of Arizona's talks told CBSSports.com of the Diamondbacks and Upton. “I just don't know where or when.”

Colleague Jon Heyman confirmed Upton's nixing of the Seattle deal, which was first reported by FoxSports.com earlier Thursday evening. Upton has four clubs included on a very limited no-trade clause, including the Mariners and Blue Jays.

The deal would have sent three or four players back to Arizona, according to CBSSports.com sources. Included among those players would have been relievers Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor, minor-league shortstop Nick Franklin and prized pitching prospect Taijuan Walker.

Before settling on Walker, the Diamondbacks also discussed top Seattle pitching prospects James Paxton and lefty Danny Hultzen. The clubs also discussed the possibility of a second player accompanying Upton to Seattle in the deal. The identity of that player, believed to be a low level minor leaguer, is not known.

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik has been working all winter attempting to improve a tepid lineup that ranked last in the American League in runs scored and OPS last summer. He acquired slugging first baseman Kendrys Morales from the Angels and signed outfielder Raul Ibanez but could not land Josh Hamilton (who signed with the Angels).

Upton would have given the Mariners the one more big bat in the middle of the lineup that they are seeking.

Whether Upton would reconsider a deal to Seattle later this winter if Arizona's efforts to trade him elsewhere fail is unknown. Hitters are leery of playing in Safeco Field because of the dimensions, though the Mariners are moving the fences in this winter.

The Diamondbacks are known to have talked with the Rangers, Rays, Braves, Orioles and Padres this winter, as well as the Mariners, about Upton. The Rangers and Rays have been the most aggressive, though Upton, sources say, would prefer being dealt to Atlanta, where his brother, B.J., just signed a whopping free-agent deal earlier this winter. He is a native of Chesapeake, Va.

Upton batted .280/.355/.430 with 17 homers and 67 RBI in 150 games for the Diamondbacks last season.

They are overloaded with outfielders with Upton, Jason Kubel, Cody Ross, Gerardo Parra, Eric Hinske and prospects Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock.

Upton, 25, has three years and $28.5 million remaining on a six-year deal he signed in March, 2010.

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