As they continue to make a push for one of the two wild-card sports in the American League, the Los Angeles Angels improved their outfield on Thursday by acquiring Justin Upton from the Detroit Tigers.
Upton, 30, was traded to the Angels in exchange for minor league right-handed pitcher Grayson Long and a player to be named later or cash considerations. The team’s official Twitter account confirmed the trade on Thursday afternoon.
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) August 31, 2017
Upton will now join a team that is currently chasing the Minnesota Twins for the second wild-card spot in the American League. The Angels trail the Twins by 1.5 games.
This season, Upton is batting .279 with 28 home runs and 94 RBIs. He is third in the AL in RBIs. Upton will definitely be a solid addition to an Angels outfield that already has Mike Trout.
With the August 31 waiver trade deadline looming, Angels general manager Billy Eppler knew that he was going to have to make a move soon. After this date, teams cannot complete a waiver trade and still have the players involved be eligible for the playoffs. Because the trade with the Tigers was completed on Thursday, Upton will be available to play for the Angels in the playoffs if they do make it.
From the Tigers perspective, this trade represents another step in the rebuilding process. By trading Upton, they will save a lot of money. Prior to the 2016 season, Detroit signed Upton to a six-year, $132.75 million contract. He still has four years left on that deal, and will be owed $88 million over the course of that span. However, he can opt-out of the contract after this season and pursue free agency. If this happens, then the Angels will not owe Upton anything past this year if they do not choose to re-sign him.
Upton will now be inserted into a lineup that already includes Trout, Albert Pujols and Andrelton Simmons. With this kind of offensive talent, there is no reason to believe that the Angels cannot make the playoffs.
The Angels outfield underwent another change on Thursday, as Cameron Maybin was claimed off of waivers by the Houston Astros. Maybin is the American League co-leader in stolen bases. Because they now have Upton, this move does not really impact the Angels that much.
Along with Trout, Upton will try and help get the Angels into the playoffs for the first time since 2014. It will be interesting to see if the team can play well enough in September to accomplish this.