After some intense few days at the beginning of the week, where it felt like B.J. Upton was about to get traded to 10 different teams simultaneously, the rumor mill has switched gears over the last couple days. Since the Carlos Beltran trade went down, Upton has barely been mentioned at all in trade discussions. And just yesterday, Joe Maddon explicitly stated that he expects nobody from the Rays’ current roster to get traded:
"I really would anticipate that we’re probably going to have the same guys over the next week,’’ Maddon said. "And two weeks, three weeks … " (Marc Topkin, St. Petersburg Times)
Meanwhile, the outfielder trade market is starting to shape up. Hunter Pence and Denard Span seem to be the two hot outfielders at the moment, with the Phillies and Nationals hot on the tail of those two. The Indians supposedly filled their outfield hole yesterday by trading for Kosuke Fukudome. And the Braves…well, they’re still out there and would still like to add someone and have been linked to a range of outfielders, but there haven’t been any large rumors about them in some time.
So where does this leave the Rays and B.J. Upton? Is this calm a good thing or bad thing? Well, it’s impossible to say; for some teams, a lack of rumors might be a sign that no trade will happen, but the Rays always operate in stealth-mode. Their trades are rarely rumored about or leaked beforehand, and they have been known to publicly say things and then do the exact opposite a few days later.
In many ways, Uptons is a comparable player to Hunter Pence. Both are 3-4 WAR outfielders that are getting more expensive through arbitration. Pence will probably bring back more since he has an extra year of team control left, but recent rumors have suggested the Astros are asking for a huge return for him. If teams get priced out of Pence, they may turn to Upton and feel he’s a better deal, even if the Rays have high demands as well.
In short, I wouldn’t lower your guard just because few rumors have mentioned Upton recently. He’s the Rays’ best trade chip, and there is a high demand on the market for outfielders right now. There are still two and a half days left before we hit the deadline, so strap in for a ride.