Rays Trade Values: #2 B.J. Upton

Contract Status: Paid $4.8 million this season; eligible for Arb 3 this offseason and Free Agency after 2012 season.

Rest of Season Projection: .342 wOBA

Trade Value: $10-18 million, or one top #25-50 pitching prospect or top #51-75 hitting prospect.

We've finally reached one of the Rays' most valuable trade chips: B.J. Upton. There is lots of debate about if the Rays should or should not trade Upton - I'm in the "Bring on Desmond Jennings!" camp - but regardless of your stance, it's worth remembering that the Rays could stand to bring in a haul from Upton.

I tend to think the WAR rankings underrate how much value the Rays could get back for Upton. There aren't many center fielders on the trade market right now, let alone center fielders that play good defense and have 25/40 potential. Upton's impressive first half - 15 homeruns, 50 RBIs - has many people viewing him as a Run ProducerTM and as a cog in the Rays' offense, but Upton has been no better or worse offensively than he was last season. Seriously, look at his numbers:

BA

OBP

SLG

wOBA

% Above Avg.

2010

0.237

0.322

0.424

0.337

11%

2011

0.239

0.325

0.427

0.336

14%

Those numbers are nearly identical; the only reason we've been led to believe that Upton is having such an insane year is because he's hit 15 homeruns (although he's hit far fewer doubles than last year) and driven in 50 runs. Upton has also had the most opportunities of anyone on the Rays to drive in runners, so it's only natural that he'd have so many RBIs.

So as tempting as it is to want and believe this is some new, improved version of Upton, it's not - we're seeing a very, very similar player to what we saw last season. Upton's still very valuable, but it's likely that another team will overvalue him due to his homerun power this year. He's a valuable trade chip as it is, so if the Rays can get some team to overpay for him, they'd be silly not to go for it. Upton's trade value is probably at its very peak right now - let's take advantage.

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