The Mets have revived discussions of a trade for the Diamondbacks' Justin Upton, two people with knowledge of the situation said Friday. However, doubts linger about whether the Mets are willing to deal enough prospects to meet the asking price for the 25-year-old rightfielder.
The Mets are in need of long-term solutions for their thin outfield, and a person familiar with their thinking said Upton "fits the bill." But the source reiterated that the Mets likely won't part with enough prospects to acquire Upton -- the same stumbling block that squashed trade talks earlier this offseason.
Upton appeared to finally come off the market this week when the Diamondbacks and Mariners agreed to the parameters of a trade. But he reportedly invoked his limited no-trade clause, once again opening the door for other teams to bid for his services.
The Mariners' proposed package reportedly included four players: relief pitchers Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor and a pair of highly regarded prospects, infielder Nick Franklin and righthanded pitcher Taijuan Walker. The Diamondbacks expect a similar prospect-rich haul in any deal for Upton.
While enduring a wave of questions about his future, Upton hit .280 with 17 homers and 67 RBIs in 150 games last year. It was a step backward after a stellar 2011 season in which he hit .289, set career highs in homers (31) and RBIs (88) and finished fourth in NL MVP voting. But the two-time All-Star's strained relationship with the organization has made him a constant focus of trade rumors.
He seems to be a natural fit for the Mets, who have long coveted a righthanded power bat for the middle of their lineup. Lefthanded-hitting Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter remain the team's in-house options to man the outfield next season, but nobody in that trio has established himself as an everyday player.
Upton is signed through 2015. Even with $38.5 million left on his contract, the structure of his deal could put him in the Mets' price range.
The Mets boast several young pitchers who could be included in a trade, but top-tier arms Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler have been considered untouchable in trade talks this offseason, and the team has offered no indications that has changed.
One rival executive believes the Mets should explore dangling infielder Wilmer Flores, who some talent evaluators believe ultimately will play third base or first base. With the Mets, Flores and his promising bat likely would be blocked by David Wright and Ike Davis.