Baseball Insider

Arizona owner Kendrick: 'High likelihood' OF Justin Upton stays with D-Backs

Justin Upton has a 90 percent chance of being with the Diamondbacks when spring training starts as things stand now, one Diamondbacks person estimated.

Even so, the D-Backs are still open to listening to a deal for the multi-talented outfielder. So that percentage could change as the winter goes on.

While not putting a precise number of Upton's chances to stay a D-Back, club owner Ken Kendrick told CBSSports.com, "I think there's a very high likelihood Justin will be in our starting outfield when we start the new season."

The immediate chance to trade Upton -- who hit .280 with 17 home runs, 107 runs scored and 67 RBI in 2012 -- took a hit when the Rangers told Arizona at the general manager meetings that they wouldn't part with either top shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar or fine young shortstop Elvis Andrus in an Upton trade. GM Kevin Towers seeks a young shortstop and pitcher back in any potential Upton deal.

There was talk Tampa Bay was involved in talks, too, but it's a little harder to see the match there, as the Rays don't have a young big-league-ready shortstop to trade and couldn't as easily absorb the $38 million to go on Upton's deal over the next three seasons.

Despite the seeming break in the trade action, Towers will listen if anyone comes to him with a realistic offer. Towers is one of the game's more prolific traders. But so far he hasn't heard what he wants to hear.

"Kevin is Kevin. I think there is no one on the roster Kevin wouldn't have a discussion about, if asked,'' Kendrick said in explanation for why such a fine young player such as Upton seems to be on the trading block so much.

Towers has the keen ability to charm players, and so far, Upton, the discussion of trade talks a couple times before, hasn't given any public indication yet that he's wearying of all the rumors and discussion. But it is believed he is open to a trade perhaps even to a team on his no-trade list.

The list, which has been changed after each season, has been rejiggered to include Seattle and Toronto, sources say, a seemingly smart move in this winter where the Blue Jays are stealing the show.If they had early interest, they have since traded their top young shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.

Towers has said a reason Upton has hit the trade market is the team's outfield depth, even after the trade of Chris Young to Oakland. Upton has made two All-Star teams and received MVP votes twice but some rivals suspect the team was hoping for even more, either in terms of production or fan popularity (one rival said that despite Upton's fine production and nice-guy image, it is his impression the D-Backs do hope for a greater connection with the fans).

"I'm a big Justin fan,'' Kendrick said. "He was drafted 1-1, and the fan expectation was so extraordinary. I think the fan base has seen flashes of an extraordinary talent. Justin's still young. All of us as young people aren't as consistent with what we do until we become a little more mature. Justin suffers from very high expectations. But he's had extraordinary success. And I think he has a lot more to contribute.''

Upton is still only 25, and it's clear Kendrick has done some research to try to understand what's realistic. Kendrick said he hesitated to invoke the name of an all-time great as a comp, but he did.

"When compared to Bonds at the same age,'' Kendrick said, meaning Barry. "[Upton's] numbers are superior at the same age.''

Kendrick pointed out, "Even before the allegations, Bonds was an extraordinary player.''

But while Upton has no knocks against him, his early production and pristine rep hasn't yet translated into wild fan zeal. But, as Kendrick pointed out, "He's a hard worker, a good person with a good family.''

Some wonder whether the Diamondbacks of their fans want their best player to exude a little more grit, to be more like his manager Kirk Gibson. "It's ironic, Gibby sees a whole lot of himself in Justin,'' Kendrick said. "Gibby's reputation wasn't always what it became.''

Kendrick sees "potential superstar'' when he sees Upton. The question is whether it will come in Arizona, or elsewhere.

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