The Justin Upton trade is another example of why No-Trade clauses have to go in MLB


Justin Upton is now joining his brother BJ in the Atlanta outfield. (Photo credit: congvo)

Justin Upton is a 25 year old super star in the making and was recently traded to the Atlanta Braves in what looks to be a landslide transaction in favor of Atlanta. Not to take anything away from Martin Prado (the main player exchanged to Arizona), but Upton’s upside is in another universe than Prado’s value, which mostly relies on a high contact rate and slightly above average defense. What the real issue is here, is that the Seattle Mariners had a deal in place just a few days prior to the agreement between Atlanta and Arizona, but Justin Upton had a limited no-trade clause in his contract which blocked a trade to a list of teams. Seattle was one of those teams. The speculated center piece of the deal included their ace in the making in 19-year old Taijuan Walker. This is an incredibly disappointing result for Jack Z. and the Mariners who are desperate to get some offense through trades due to their difficulty in landing top free agent hitters.

We see trades happen all the time. This offseason was full of big deals and the Upton deal with Atlanta is no exception. However one cannot help but feel bad for a team like Seattle who are building for a certain window to win as their talent matures and their budget lines up. GM’s lose jobs over botched deals like this, and I think it’s time MLB put an end to no-trade clauses in contracts. This is not an overreaction to this specific deal (I’m not a fan of any particular team), more of an evaluation of the game as it stands today. Point being, front offices are becoming increasingly more intelligent and efficient in their trades and acquisitions. They have a much firmer grasp on player values and are able to make smarter decisions. Being a general manager in MLB isn’t an easy job. To see a player have the ability to block out certain markets based on whatever preference is silly to me.

You could argue how much fun it will be to see Upton in Atlanta playing alongside his brother and All-Star Jason Heyward. I won’t even try to argue against that. However Seattle has only so many bullets (in prospects) and the market for teams giving up super star talent level players for prospects aren’t lining up in anticipation. Granted, the Mariners could go ahead and get Giancarlo Stanton next week and make this look silly. The observation is as a big picture on baseball and the ripple effect a no-trade has on not only the trading team, but the teams looking to acquire the play. I think it’s bad for the game and it needs to go.

We all know how much fun the Hot Stove is and trades are some of the most exciting parts of baseball. Having no salary cap allows teams to be creative and take shots that teams in other leagues could only dream about. In an age where baseball is seemingly “too slow” for many of the younger generation, I think MLB is making a mistake by handing players the power to stop teams from trying to improve and be competitive.


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  1. Ted

    February 7, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Seems to me that the Diamondback GM either should know what teams are blocked in Upton’s contract, or get his consent before discussing a deal with a blocked team. It was a clause that Arizona agreed to (they didn’t have to) upon signing Upton.

    • Bill King

      February 11, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      Ted, it’s possible Justin wouldn’t say either way until a deal was approved. There seems to be bad blood between the front office and the player, so it’s reasonable to assume that they took a shot at it with Seattle. That’s why these deals are so complicated behind closed doors. We are always left to guess at what actually transpired. Thanks for reading!

  2. mike

    February 7, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Always remember the Diamondbacks also agreed to the no trade clause. It takes both sides. So why did Towers facilitate a trade with the team that was on the no trade list? its not the rule thats the problem, it is the GM and the medias fault it went public! GO BRAVES!!

    • Bill King

      February 11, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Hey Mike! Agreed, it does take both sides and that’s why I think they should go. The players union will fight for them, but in all reality the Mariners needed Justin more and were willing to pay more as well. It’s also really tough to keep information away from the public these days. It could have been Justin that leaked the rumor since it took his approval. Thanks for reading!

  3. Jaime Quinones

    February 8, 2013 at 12:42 am

    You’re so

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