Los Angeles Angels: Justin Upton
Justin Upton’s status with the 2018 MLB free-agent class is still up in the air. He has the ability to opt out of the final four years and $88 million left on his original six-year contract. Arguably MLB’s streakiest hitter, Upton has a chance to guarantee himself at least one extra year and over $100 million by becoming a free agent.
The Angels attempt at going for it all this year by trading for Upton and Brandon Phillips ultimately came up short, and they will need to stay aggressive this offseason to have any hope of contending again net year. Upton is the protection that Mike Trout needs to help get this team back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Baseball’s best player has been forced to do too much by himself with Albert Pujols entering a rapid decline.
Upton has a difficult decision to consider here. He is entering his age-30 season and his contract runs through 2021 when he will be 34. Upton could stay in the current contract until it runs out and find a three-year contract, but at a lesser annual value. His value may be at its highest point as he gets ready to enter the early years of his thirties. Upton’s power numbers are the best of his career and he has new bests in home runs and RBI.
My gut is telling me Upton will elect to go back out on the market where he will be the second-best outfielder available. He should still be able to find another contract in the range of six years and $130 million — essentially a two-year extension of his current contract. The Angels should have pursued Upton more aggressively after the 2015 season and they cannot afford to let him get away a second time.