The Arizona Diamondbacks have decisions to make about their future.
Outfielder Justin Upton has been claimed by an unidentified team, CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reported this afternoon, while left-handed starting pitcher Joe Saunders cleared waivers, according to AZCentral.com’s Nick Piecoro.
Upton, a 25-year-old right fielder who was the top overall pick by Arizona in the 2005 draft, is batting .273 with nine home runs, 49 RBI, 13 steals and a disappointing .753 OPS in 2012. Though Upton’s numbers are down this season, last month Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick told the Arizona Republic that “I think we’re better off with him on our team.”
The Diamondbacks have Jason Kubel and Chris Young in the starting outfield with Upton, and 25-year-old Gerardo Parra has produced strong numbers as a backup. A.J. Pollock is a promising outfield prospect at Triple-A Reno and made his Major League debut earlier this year.
Upton will receive $9.75 million in 2013, $14.25 million in 2014 and $14.5 million in 2015. Signed to a six-year, $51.25 million deal, he can block trades to the Cubs, Indians, Yankees and Red Sox.
Arizona has three choices with Upton. It can let him (and his contract) depart for the claiming team, conduct a trade with the claiming team or pull him back off waivers.
As for the 29-year-old Saunders, he can now be traded to any team since he has cleared waivers. The veteran of eight Major League seasons is 6-10 with a 4.22 ERA in 21 starts for the Diamondbacks this year.
If they do not trade him before season’s end, likely the Diamondbacks will let Saunders go since he will be a free agent.
The Diamondbacks will have depth even without Saunders.
Young arms like Ian Kennedy and Trevor Cahill anchor the current Diamondbacks rotation, and more promising starters are on the way. Among them are Tyler Skaggs, who recently made his Major League debut; Patrick Corbin; Trevor Bauer; and Archie Bradley.