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Eaton may force Diamondbacks' hand in outfield

The SportsXchange

The early emergence of Adam Eaton gives the Diamondbacks five legitimate starting outfielders, and it does not take much imagination to envision the Diamondbacks trading from strength to fill a perceived need at shortstop in the offseason.

None of that is lost on veterans Chris Young and Justin Upton, the most marketable and perhaps the most likely to go elsewhere.

"I think it (trade) is a very good possibility. They have to make a decision. Obviously, you can't carry five outfielders," right fielder Upton told "Common sense would say that you won't enter spring training with five starting outfielders. I don't see that happening.

"Whatever would happen, I have no idea. That's not really my place to even try to figure that part out. I have no idea how I fit into that equation."

With Young out because of a quadriceps injury, Eaton has started in center field and hit leadoff the last eight games after being recalled from Class AAA Reno on Sept. 4. He is hitting .294 and has brought the element of speed to the top of the order. It is a very small sample size, but Eaton's minor league resume includes a .375 batting average, 47 doubles and 44 stolen bases this year.

It is deep depth. Upton and Young have been All-Stars, and Upton finished fourth in the NL MVP balloting in 2011. Left fielder Jason Kubel has a career-high 29 home runs and leads the NL with 13 outfield assists in his first season here this year, and Gerardo Parra won a Gold Glove in left field in 2011. The was teeth-gnashing by fans when free agent Kubel was signed in the offseason to supplant Parra in left field, but Kubel has been one of their most productive bats.

Upton's name comes up frequently in trade discussions, and while managing partner Ken Kendrick said Upton would not be traded at the July 31 deadline, discussions certainly will pick up again in the offseason.

The D-backs placed Upton, Young and most of their other players on waivers after the July 31 deadline, a routine procedure. Sometimes it is a vehicle for a trade, like the one the Dodgers pulled off to get Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett et al from Boston. More often it is used to gauge interest, since the team knows exactly which other teams put in a claim on a player.

"2013 ain't here yet. I can't worry about that. I haven't even thought about it," Upton said.

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