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Cafardo: Nationals Putting A Big Package Together For B.J. Upton?

This report comes from Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe:

B.J. Upton, OF, Rays – The Nationals are considering offering the moon for him. There are a few factors. Some of the Nationals people feel Upton could use a change of scenery where his talents would be maximized. Also, he grew up with Ryan Zimmerman, and the feeling is Zimmerman would be a good influence on Upton, a good guy whose effort is inconsistent. The Rays have never felt that Upton would blossom in Tampa.

Eh, color me unimpressed — I don’t think the Nationals have what it takes to put together a huge package for Upton. Despite the talk of them “offering the moon” for Upton, there’s no way top prospect Bryce Harper is on the table. And after him, the Nationals don’t have many other attractive pieces.

Tyler Clippard? Sure, he’s a good relief pitcher (1.73 ERA, 3.33 FIP), but he’s…well, a relief pitcher. He’s also entering arbitration, so while he’d be a fine part to have thrown in a deal, there’s no way the Rays will take him as a centerpiece. Relievers — even the good ones — are simply too replaceable.

Derek Norris? He’s a fine catching prospect, but he’s currently hitting .206 in Double-A, raising concerns about how his batting average will translate as he gets higher in the minors. Of course, he’s hitting for power (12 home runs) and flashing great plate discipline (18% walk rate), so he’s still a valuable hitter; my point is merely that he’s no star-studded prospect. Again, he’d be a fine player to acquire, but he wouldn’t get the deal done all by himself.

Ian Desmond? He’s been tossed around a lot in trade talks, as the Nationals seem willing to deal him, but do the Rays really need another no hit, all glove middle infielder? Reid Brignac performed that roll for the Rays for the majority of this season, and he’s been demoted to Triple-A now. I understand that Desmond still has upside, but he’s 25-years-old and beginning to reach that point where what you see is what you get. I’m not a huge fan — that .267 wOBA isn’t very attractive — and I can’t see him being the centerpiece of an Upton trade.

I’m sure the Rays would love Danny Espinosa, but I highly doubt the Nationals are willing trade him. And if that’s the case, it may be that the Nationals simply can’t put together a solid enough package for B.J. Upton. The Rays are going to try and shoot high, getting as much back as possible for Upton, and I think these pieces are enough to get the job done.

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