It should take Cincinnati Reds General Manager Nick Krall all of 0.6 seconds to pick up the phone and call Justin Upton's agent. The outfielder was designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels, and assuming no one claims the 34-year-old off waivers, the Reds would be a perfect landing spot for the four-time All-Star.
Upton is owed $28M this season, and that's a contract the Angels are apparently willing to eat. Instead, the Halos will turn the young duo of Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh to flank Mike Trout in the Los Angeles outfield.
This, however, is fantastic news for the Reds who need a solid right-handed bat like Upton. Though the team recently signed Tommy Pham, the addition of the designated hitter would allow for plenty of at-bats to go around.
The Reds should attempt to add Justin Upton to the lineup.
Justin Upton is not the player he once was. In 2011, Upton took home the Silver Slugger, went to the All-Star Game, and finished fourth in NL MVP voting behind Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, and Prince Fielder. Upton has been to the Midsummer Classic four times and won three Silver Sluggers.
But, his last few seasons with the Angels have been less than ideal. Upton's combined to play just 194 games and has collectively hit .211/.299/.414 from 2019-2021. But, Upton has played very well this spring and crushed left-handed pitching last season.
In Cactus League play, Upton is hitting .333/.474/.933 with three home runs and 11 RBIs. Last year versus southpaws, Upton slashed .225/.355/.483. That .838 OPS against left-handed pitching is exactly what the Reds need heading into 2022.
Justin Upton is primarily a left fielder, as is Tommy Pham. But given that the designated hitter is now in the National League, one of the two veterans could occupy that role on any given night, espeicailly against a lefty.. Both Tyler Naquin and Jake Fraley are left-handed hitting outfielders and have not had success against left-handers in the past.
Adding Upton to the Reds roster seems like a no-brainer. While Krall may attempt to do so, the only way to guarantee that Upton comes to Cincinnati is to claim him off waivers. I'm pretty sure that the Redlegs don't want to pay Upton the $28M remaining on his contract. But Cincinnati should certainly offer Upton a low-cost deal and see if they can come to terms with the former Angels outfielder.