COMMENTARY | They say there are no stupid questions, but "would you trade me Starlin Castro?" has to be cutting it very close.
According to ESPN Chicago reporter Bruce Levine, sources confirmed that the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks had entered talks about the possibility of trading Justin Upton to Chicago. However, talks stalled when Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers demanded that Starlin Castro be a part of any proposed package.
Speculation has the talks sounding something like this:
Theo Epstein: "We're interested in Justin Upton."
Kevin Towers: "We want Starlin Castro."
Epstein: "Don't call here again." (Dial tone)
Castro, 22, is the central piece of the Cubs' rebuilding plan. In three seasons with the Cubs, Castro has a career batting average of .297. In 2011, Starlin Castro led the National League in hits with 207. Since the emergence of Anthony Rizzo last season, the Cubs appear content to build their future around these two players moving forward.
Upton, 25, is a career .278 hitter and has three years and $38 million still remaining on his current contract. The Cubs, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays are the teams Upton has suggested he would waive his no-trade clause to play for next season. Upton has already exercised his no-trade clause once this offseason when he vetoed a proposed trade with the Seattle Mariners. The deal would have sent him to the Emerald City for Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, and Taijuan Walker.
Even with the setback, the Arizona Diamondbacks seem prepared to move Upton somewhere before the 2013 season starts, but their asking price may still be too high.
"We are not interested in giving away any of our young talented players," Towers said at the Professional Scouts Foundation dinner in Los Angeles. "My job is to get the best players in order to win championships here in Arizona. That said, someone will have to give us equal value if we move one of our top players."
Trading for Upton would add a significant bat to the top of the Cubs' lineup; however, the Cubs still have plans to make their recent Cuban-born acquisition, Jorge Soler, the right fielder of the future. It is very unlikely Epstein and Jed Hoyer would consider moving any of their cornerstone players to bring Justin Upton to the Windy City.
That being said, and judging by the deal with the Seattle Mariners that fell through, the Cubs do have the requisite prospects needed to make this trade happen. Towers and the Diamondbacks would simply need to adjust their demands to a more realistic level. Two failed trade attempts in 10 days may make Arizona more in the selling mood. It will be interesting to see if these two sides return back to the negotiating table before winter's end.
Possible Future Cubs Lineup with Justin Upton
CF Justin Upton
RF Jorge Soler
SS Javier Baez
2B Junior Lake
Lee Anthony is a freelance writer who covers sports and entertainment. He has a self-proclaimed "encyclopedia-like knowledge" of all things Chicago Cubs' baseball. Lee's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Yardbarker and Boston Metro. In 2012, Lee was honored with an award in sports writing for his work with Football Nation.