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The cost of Justin Upton

Tweet [1]

[2]This doesn’t happen often, but last night we learned the actual cost of a still available trade target.

The guys at FOX Sports first reported, and several others soon confirmed, that Justin Upton used his no-trade clause to turn down a trade to Seattle. It was CBS Sports that first reported the package that Arizona decided was valuable enough to deal Upton: [3] Pitching prospect Taijuan Walker, infield prospect Nick Franklin and young big league relievers Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor.

That’s two of the top five prospects from baseball’s second-best minor league system, [4] plus two cost-controlled relievers. According to Ken Rosenthal, one baseball source said that Upton rejecting the deal “saved (Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik)’s job.” [5]

I’ve been trying to come up with a comparable package for the Yankees, but it’s tough.

Baseball America has called Walker “a potential ace” [6] and MLB.com ranked Franklin as the fourth-best shortstop prospect in baseball. [7] The two relievers in the deal have had big league success but neither is eligible for arbitration.

With Manny Banuelos hurt, the Yankees upper-level pitching talent (Brett Marshall, David Phelps, Ivan Nova) doesn’t have Walker’s upside, and the same is true for the Yankees upper-level middle-infielders (Eduardo Nunez, Corban Joseph, David Adams) compared to Franklin. Dave Robertson and Mark Montgomery would probably be an upgrade on the relievers, but only if the Diamondbacks were OK with paying Robertson and waiting for Montgomery.

What the Yankees have to headline a trade — high-end outfielders, a young catcher, high-risk pitchers — doesn’t match up, player-for-player with the package the Mariners were going to give for Upton. In terms of pure talent, the Yankees could match Seattle’s offer, but if the Mariners were going to give two of their top five prospects, I have to think the Yankees would have to give two of their top four.

Would the Yankees give up a key chunk of the farm system to bank their future on Upton? Would you want them to?