This winter, the Angels have a lot to get done, and it all starts with slugger Justin Upton.
The power-hitting left fielder was acquired by the Angels from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for RHP Grayson Long at the waiver deadline, making them a favorite for the second wild card. Unfortunately, they struggled against tough opponents such as the Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians, sending them to a 80-82 finish. Upton hit .241 with 7 home runs in his brief stint, and now he will decide whether he returns or not.
Upton has 4 years, and $88.5M left on the contract he signed with Detroit, but his deal has an opt-out clause for this offseason. If he stays, the contract picks back up, but if he declines, he’ll hit the free agent market once again. The biggest issue though, was that 2017 was a fantastic year for Upton. Overall, he hit .269 with 33 home runs and 109 RBIs. Additionally he posted a 5.6 WAR, among the best of American League outfielders. While he struggled defensively at times and he strikes out frequently, he is a valuable middle-of-the-order threat. Justin could get upwards of $25M a year on the market if he opts-out, but sluggers have struggled to get big money in free agency in recent years. It’s also important to note that Upton has been on 5 teams – Arizona, Atlanta, San Diego, Detroit, and now the Angels – over the last 10 years. If he truly enjoys Anaheim, we could see him sacrifice some money to stay there. The Angels and Upton could also extend the contract for more lucrative dollar figures. As Upton has said often, his #1 priority is winning, and with some tweaks, the Angels could contend once again in 2018. It’s hard to tell at this point based on the mixed reports, but one thing is definitive: Justin Upton will be extremely rich either way.
Here’s a quick summary of possibilities:
OPTION 1A: Justin Upton doesn’t opt out, and the Angels retain him for 4 years.
OPTION 1B: Justin Upton doesn’t opt out, and adds extra money/incentives over more years.
OPTION 2A: Justin Upton opts out and becomes a free agent.
OPTION 2B: Justin Upton opts out and re-signs with the Angels in a restructured deal.
Whew. That was a lot of technicalities.
Anyways, enjoy the World Series.
(Image via MSN.com)