Does a Laynce Nix For B.J. Upton Swap Work:

July 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Nationals have been in pursuit of Virginia product B.J. Upton (who was a youth teammate of Ryan Zimmerman) for sometime. While in the past Upton was too good for the Rays to give up on, his down season, combined with his high arbitration rate make him very likely to be dealt this season. In addition the Rays have more outfield depth overall as well as top prospect Desmond Jennings waiting in AAA. Now the question is would this trade work?

For the Nationals it should be basically a no-brainer. Laynce Nix is having a career season and is a free agent after the year. Washington needs to add whatever value they can for him and send him on his way. Any talk of resigning him should be ignored as Bryce Harper is quickly making his way through the minors and Michael Morse may be moved back to LF if the Nationals acquire a power hitting 1B. Unless the N.L. adopts the DH for next season, there is little need for Nix.

In return the Nationals could get the answer to their center field woes. While Roger Bernadina has come up with some big hits and great defensive plays, they are too few and far in between to have a major impact on this team. Bernadina fits best as a 4th outfielder and shouldn't be starting everyday for the Nationals. Despite having great speed his defense has always been a bit of a liability in CF. Upton on the other hand has been great defensively up until this year, and could just need a change of scenery to get his defense back on the right track.

When Upton is going well his defense is of the gold glove variety, and can be a real difference maker in the outfield (which is a big reason why Tampa has held out so long). While it is a concern that it's not up to par right now, I would have to believe that his defensive issues this year are just a fluke, after being a top CF since he moved to the position mid-way in 2007. In addition Upton has always brought exceptional speed to the base paths and been one of the league's best base stealers. Upton's speed would be a great tool for a Nationals team that has been as aggressive as anyone on the bases.

If Upton's defense and base stealing are there then this can be a good deal for the Nats, but the real question is how will his hitting be? Now regardless his hitting will be better than Bernadina and Rick Ankiel, but that isn't exactly setting the bar too high. Upton has power, but he doesn't always show it (though this season it seems to be coming out) the real question is whether he will get enough hits (and walks, though his walk rate isn't horrible). This year though Upton has been extremely unlikely with a BABIP of .277, which is well below the mean of .300 and Upton's career mark of .327. If some of Upton's hits start falling, then this deal could end up being a steal for Washington.

So why then would Tampa consider making this deal? Well for starters they need to give Desmond Jennings a shot. He has been their top position prospect for a couple of years now, but he can't crack the starting lineup. He should be able to step in from day one and replace if not exceed the all-around production Upton has brought to this team (likely more bat than defense). Also, Upton is pretty pricey for the budget conscious Rays, as his $4.8 million arbitration deal is the 2nd biggest deal on this team. With Upton headed for another Arbitration case that could pay him over $7 million next season, Tampa should look at going with the younger option and saving money. Saving money is even more important as the Rays still need to sign a number of their banner draft class this year, as well as afford quite a few raises next season (esp. David Price). While this deal doesn't offer the Rays any long term value (outside of saving money) is does help them in the short term.

The Rays are currently in 3rd place in the A.L. East, but sit just 3.5 games out of first place and 3 games out of the Wildcard. Being 10 games above .500, there is no reason for the Rays to think that they can't overcome those odds. Adding another bat like Laynce Nix (likely as their DH), would allow the Rays to promote Desmond Jennings, and move Johnny Damon as well. Nix would be a major boost offensively in a DH role (at least against RHP), and Jennings should be able to exceed Upton's value this season, considering how much of a funk Upton has been in. The Rays could also look to move Damon's contract (which is the only one bigger than Upton's on the team) to free up even more money for their future success.

The deal would represent a slight risk for the Rays, as they'd be selling low on Upton, but his value can be replaced internally for about 1/15 the price. Nix would be a good addition to an offense that hasn't been able to keep pace with the Red Sox and Yankees, and help improve the Rays chances of getting a playoff spot this year. The money freed up by the Rays would also have a lasting impact in either signing rookies, or ensuring they can have a more aggressive payroll next season.

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22 responses to Does a Laynce Nix For B.J. Upton Swap Work:

  1. Rich said on July 8, 2011

    The Rays would have to be absolute idiots to make that deal. They would want a prospect or two on top of that. I hope that they are idiots…

    • @Rich:

      Upton isn't offering the Rays too much right now and the longer they hold on to him 3 things happen. The more they pay for below average production, the more value he loses, and the longer they keep AB's away from Desmond Jennings. Here the Rays can get cheaper with Nix and Jennings and this will allow them to move Upton and Damon, who equal most of their salary commitment.

  2. Are you crazy? The Rays would never pull the trigger on this unless Clippard was involved. Upton is leading the team in RBI's and is by far their best defensive player. Renting Nix for one year and getting nothing else in return would be stupid. I agree with the money observation, but that's a problem for next year. There is a reason why Jennings isn't up. It has more to do with his play, than his numbers finacially going forward. He's clearly not ready.

    • @Jerome-

      I disagree, Jennings isn't up b/c of keeping him from Super two status going forward. He started off slow but he is killing it this year (and every year) in the high minors. Upton's RBI total is completely a fluke and more of a function of his teammates being on base than any real skill on his part (I'm not knocking him, just saying RBI's are a fun but meaningless stat). The difference between Upton's OPS and RISP OPS is .004. As for his defense it has been a liability thus far this season as has his base running (he has a worse SB%). I think both are fixable, but the Rays have a top prospect who could be better and they are holding him back for Upton who is expensive and doesn't have the trade value they are hoping for. Maybe the Nats throw in like a C value prospect, but it won't be much that they'd have to do.

  3. If Nix is a free agent after the year, then why would the Rays bother? The Rays, and many other teams, see Upton as having potential and he is still 4 years younger than Nix.

    Perhaps for Drew Storen, since that would be a more fair deal for the Rays. My 2¢…

    • @Steve

      The Rays save money both this year and next and pick up a power bat for their stretch run this year, so I think that is pretty good value for them. What other decent power bats can they acquire without giving up some of their top prospects or eat a ton of salary? The Rays won't have Upton 2 years from now so they would be wise to cash him in at some point. Nix is a solid value. I wouldn't call it a huge win for them, but it isn't a loss either.

      • Andrew Friedman is way too smart for this. BJ is on pace to be a 25-35 guy this year with gold glove D in CF. Never happen

        • @Crawdelli-

          Upton's defense is awful this year, and Nix is on pace for the same number of HR's (despite less AB's), with a higher OPS and average.

  4. I would make that trade in a heartbeat if I was Washington. As you stated B.J. may just need a change of scenery to get his swagger back. Maybe being on the same team as Zim will also keep him grounded. Nix was just a one year rental player from the get go. Great deal if it happens!

    • Price given if he doesn't get hurtShields given if he doesn't regress back to 2010 and after all his work to clean up that drveliey, that isn't happening.Longoria given if healthy. Pretty much a flat out lock like his first 3 years if he's healthy, really.The 4th has many optionsUpton Please keep remembering he is playing for a contract and hitting ahead of Longoria in the #2 spot last year, the guy was a studJennings Power probably wont be as good as it looked but his overall game of hitting for a good average, playing good defense, stealing many bags and the occasional bombs give him a chanceJeremy Hellickson I do fear he will be figured out a bit this season but if I'm not wrong, this dude had an ERA under 3 in his rookie year and he flat out, out smarts hitters by pitching backwards. Trust the fastball and curve more and stop falling in love with the change up too much and he has a shotBen Zobrist He is so consistent with the bat and glove and even with his legs, he will be on the bubble again this year.Matt Moore I don't want to fall for shiny new toy syndrome so I'm not going to look at his 2 starts and call him a lock but the talent in that left arm? He absolutley has a chance.Honorable mentions: Kyle Farnsworth, Matt Joyce, Jake McGeeMy picks in the end are 5 players.Price (3rd) Shields (2nd) Longoria (4th) Upton (1st .that's sad) and Zobrist (2nd)

  5. pure silliness

    • I was agreeing with Drew, who potenid out that the odds of several non-superstars all having allstar years at the same time are not good. Tom, I loved last year's team, really I did. But usually you don't get a wild card spot with 91 wins. Last year's team only made the playoffs because the Red Sox collapsed. If the Rays want to really contend, rather than just hope a stronger team fails, they need continued strong showing from their true stars (Longoria plus starting pitching) and career years from at least two others of the Zobrist-Joyce-Upton-Jennings group.

  6. BG said on July 8, 2011

    This is an interesting idea but I don't know if the Rays or their fans share your enthusiaism about their Wild Card chances.

    BP gave them about a 10% chance of overtaking one of the Sox and Yanks and making the playoffs. Their next 9 games are against the Sox and Yanks, and if they don't win most of them, Nix may not help enough to justify trading for him and playing him over Guyer.

  7. Ben said on July 9, 2011

    I scoffed at the idea of Nix for Upton when I saw this link on, so I clicked on it to see if it could be justified in writing. I finished reading and I still think it's a ludicrous idea. Upton has so much potential and presently-available talent, whereas Nix is having a fluke season, is an over-30 fourth outfielder (at best) having an marginally good year, including a horrible season on defense (according to UZR Laynce Nix is not a solution. Rather, he would be an adequate partner to another Nationals player in a trade for Upton. I don't see the logic behind trading Upton for Nix at all, I'm sorry.

  8. Siva said on July 9, 2011

    HAHAHAHA this article has to be a joke right.

  9. Mike said on July 9, 2011

    @Siva I'm convinced this article is of the brilliant tongue-in-cheek variety. Steve's defenses in the comments are mere ploys to convince us this was written in good faith. He's baiting the wrong team though, as there are no Rays' fans to fill up the comments with the vitriol this post would otherwise deserve.

    • I knew this would be unpopular when I wrote it, but I don't think Rays fans are realistic about Upton's value right now. If they were to keep Upton he would cost north of $7 million next year, which would represent 1/10th of the Rays highest payroll in the last 11 years ($72 million in 2010). The Rays were able to only able to maintain that payroll for one season, so I don't know how anyone can argue that they'd keep Upton when they have a younger/cheaper option in Jennings. It made sense to devote that payroll to Crawford but not Upton.

      As for the return, lets be honest trades are done by a 'what have you done for me lately' mentality. Plenty of star players have seen their trade values diminish do to a poor season, and that is what is happening to Upton. Maybe the Rays get slightly more but this is not going to be some big time deal.

  10. Mike said on July 9, 2011

    It isn't unpopular, it's homerism at it's best.

    The premise is that the Rays need to clear payroll so bad that they would dump Upton for a rental of a fourth outfielder. Even if you actually believe that is his true value, the 'market' would produce a lot more.

    Say the Rays were ready to dump Upton for whatever they could get (and they are not), wouldn't the Cubs/Rangers/etc step up and offer a B prospect, assuming that all they had to beat was an offer of Nix?

    I think it would take a package centered around Derek Norris to lure Upton away this season, and maybe not even then since the Rays figure to compete.

    If all the Nats will give up is Nix, they might be able to get Elliott Johnson. Maybe.

    • you are valuing Upton WAY too much at this point. His defense has kept him valuable as has his speed, but both are down quite a bit now. No way the Nats give up a top 50 prospect like Norris for him.

      • I'd say that you are valuing Nix WAY too much. A shitty OF who gets hot for 2 months doesn't get you a young every day OF.

      • I have to agree with Don as far as hitting goes. We all know that ptcnhiig has to carry this team but to depend on anything from our offense is wishful thinking. Over the last 3 years Upton has NOT hit over .245, has NOT had over 23 HR and K'd over 150 times each year. Joyce will platoon with someone again. Our SS situation is even worse with a rotation of weak hitting utility players. A 37 yr. old catcher with unproven minor leaguers as backups. And no first baseman. The only proven hitter on this team is Longoria. I hope Jennings really steps up this year but that is far from a given.Please trade some of the ptcnhiig depth (we have at least 8 viable starters) on this team for a power hitting first baseman and realiable SS and/or C.

  11. This piece needs a little editing, lemme see what I can do…

    "Does a Laynce Nix For B.J. Upton Swap Work? – No."