As much as the Diamondbacks try and push Justin Upton out into the desert, the revolving door pushes the right-fielder right back inside Chase Field.
The latest episode involved Upton going to the Seattle Mariners for a plethora of prospects. In exercising his option to reject the deal, Upton made it clear he would like to remain in Arizona, and reinforced a point he made clear at the end of last season.
FOX Sports first reported Thursday Upton said “no” to Seattle and the effort to move Upton by Kevin Towers, the D-backs general manager, appears somewhat relentless. By nature, Upton is quiet and taciturn, and perhaps a man of greater emotion would have had enough of this never-ending scenario.
Beginning with the General Managers meetings last November in Indian Wells, Calif., through the winter meetings in Nashville last month and beyond, Upton remains a topic of fascination, attention and interest. It was reported by several media outlets that the Braves and Rangers remains in hot pursuit, but Towers has been unable to the pull the trigger on a deal involving these teams.
On Thursday, CBS Sports reported the Mariners would have shipped three, perhaps four players in exchange for Upton. These include pitchers Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor, minor league infielder Nick Franklin, who played mostly second base for Peoria in the recently concluded Arizona Fall League, and one of three pitching prospects, right-hander Taijuan Walker and leftys James Paxton or Danny Hultzen.
Since the end of last season, Towers appears to struggle in his attempt to solidify the Diamondbacks outfield. Through Towers’ perspective, Upton could be perceived as one element in clogging an already crowded field, and thus expendable.
Not satisfied with Upton in right, Chris Young in center and Jason Kubel in left, Towers took on the look of a gambler right out of the old West. Knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, Towers began picking the gardens apart. Additionally, Towers appears uncertain whether prospects Adam Eaton and A. J. Pollack would provide the Diamondbacks with a better solution.
First, he dealt Young to Oakland, then signed free agents outfielders Eric Hinske and Cody Ross and, so far, retained Gerardo Parra and Kubel. With the outfield traffic jam duly noted, Towers apparently has turned his attention to Upton once again, reached out to the Mariners, and was abruptly shot down by Upton.
With exactly one month to the start of spring training, many pundits believe Towers is comfortable with his off-season moves, and now patiently waits for his intrepid wrriors to arrive at Salt River.
On the eve of this rite of spring and as players begin to arrive in warmer climes, this does appear to be the case.
The Diamondbacks announced reporting dates for spring training at Salt River in Scottsdale.
Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 11 and first workout is slated for the next day. Position players report on Feb. 14 and first full-squad workout his the following day.
All practices are open to the public and fans may park in the Desert Lot on the north side of the complex.
In addition to the 40 man roster, the Diamondbacks invited 20 non-roster players to camp. These include right-handed pitchers, Eddie Bonine, Nelson Figueroa, Warner Madrigal, Evan Marshall, Garrett Mock and Bo Schultz, leftys David Holmberg, Rommie Lewis; catchers Ed Easley, Tuffy Gosewisch, Rossmel Perez and Mark Reed, infielders Matt Davidson, Jon Griffin, Kila Ka’aihue, Chris Owings, Mark Teahen and Josh Wilson and outfielders Jeremy Reed and Brad Snyder.
Due to the World Baseball Classic slated for March, the opening of camp is one week earlier.
The D-backs will open their Cactus League exhibition season on Feb. 23 versus the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick a 1:10 p.m. and will play 36 spring games. The schedule ends with a pair against the Reds in Chase Field on March 29 and 30.
FAN FEST IS COMING
The D-backs ninth annual Fan Fest is scheduled for Chase Field, Saturday Feb. 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The event is free and offers fans access to players, coaches, alumni and broadcasters. Last year’s event drew an estimated 25,000.