A good Tigers lineup just got better, at least for the next two years.
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The Tigers inked Justin Upton to a six-year, $132.75 million contract on Wednesday, adding another offensive weapon to a lineup that already boasts the game's best hitter and one of the premier power hitters in the league. The agreement includes an opt-out clause after two years, an option that is becoming increasingly more common in contracts.
"They wanted another bat. ... I think it's a good fit," Upton said at Wednesday's press conference to introduce the outfielder.
That's the truth. Upton, with Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, Victor Martinez, Nick Castellanos and others, puts the Tigers among the league's best offenses. And for the 28-year-old, hitting in a lineup so populated with mashers should help him improve on his .251/.336/.454 line, 26 homers, 81 RBI and 85 runs scored from last season.
That boost in counting stats will come in handy if and when Upton exercises his opt-out clause. Upton's agent, Larry Reynolds, said his client doesn't have his eye on opting out after the 2017 season.
“He’s 28 years old and we felt like, consistent with the market, he should warrant a seven- or eight-year contract,” Reynolds said Wednesday. “When it came down to it, we offered two scenarios. The second scenario, which they obviously took, was the opt-out.
“But the intent is not to get out of a contract. It’s just something we felt we had to do.”
Time will tell.
Cespedes For The Rest Of Them
With Upton off the market, all eyes have turned to Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes is the last remaining impact bat on the free agent market, and plenty of teams are rumored to be interested in what the 30-year-old has to offer. That will happen when you bat .291/.328/.542 with 35 home runs, 105 RBI and 101 runs scored in your walk year.
On Wednesday, the rumors were out in full force. The White Sox, per USA Today's Bob Nightengale, have interest but don't want to go beyond three years for Cespedes' services. Mets owner Fred Wilpon said the team is also in touch with their former outfielder, and the Padres are reported to be monitoring Cespedes' market as well.
Two other teams, the Nationals and Astros, could also look to Cespedes now that Upton is in Detroit, Nightengale speculated. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports confirmed the Nats' interest.
Wherever he ends up, it sounds as though Cespedes could find a new home soon. Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM said Sunday that the outfielder's market was "intensifying" -- days before Upton found a landing spot -- and that Cespedes could have a deal "in the next few days."
Lucroy Asks Out Of Milwaukee
Another player who could have a new home soon -- at least he hopes so -- is Jonathan Lucroy.
Lucroy is one of the few remaining above-average MLB regulars on a Brewers team that doesn't have designs on contending in 2016, and he's aware of it. And with no hope of winning a championship in the near future, the 29-year-old said he'd rather be somewhere with a shot at winning sooner than later.
"I'm not going to sit here and say we're going to compete for the playoffs this year," Lucroy told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "If I did that, you'd call me a liar. I'd lose credibility and respect.
"I want to win and I don't see us winning in the foreseeable future. I want to go to a World Series. That's what all players want. Rebuilding is not a lot of fun for any veteran guy."
Injuries limited Lucroy to 103 games this past season, but the catcher owns a career .282/.340/.430 line while averaging 15 homers, 77 RBI and 68 runs scored over a 162-game schedule. He's also signed to a very team-friendly deal, making $4 million in 2016 with a $5.25 million club option for 2017.
As such, Lucroy is expected to be costly, prospect-wise, for any team trying to deal for him. MLB Network's Jon Heyman said the demands have tempered Lucroy's market, saying the Brewers "haven't heard anything very interesting" in talks because the "price of prospects has escalated."
Quick Hits: The Astros and Orioles are among the teams showing interest in free agent Yovani Gallardo. Gallardo, who is attached to draft pick compensation, has also heard from the Blue Jays this winter, but nothing appears imminent ... Colby Lewis returned to the Rangers on a one-year, $6 million pact. Lewis had highs and lows in 2015, finishing with a 4.66 ERA and 142/42 K/BB ratio over 204 2/3 innings ... Cuban outfielder Yadiel Hernandez will hold a showcase for teams on February 23 in Mexico City. The 28-year-old batted .369/.509/.535 with seven homers and 51 RBI in 85 games during his final season in Cuba's Serie Nacional ... The Rockies and Gerardo Parra finalized a three-year, $26 million contract that includes a $12 million club option for 2019. Parra's arrival could precipitate a trade of one of the team's current projected starters in the outfield ... The Dodgers and Joe Blanton have agreed to a one-year, $4 million contract, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan. Blanton has both starting and relieving experience in recent years, and he'll likely do some of both for the Dodgers ... The Red Sox and Junichi Tazawa avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.375 million contract. With a loaded Red Sox bullpen, Tazawa should be one of the better middle relievers in the game this year ... The Mets and Antonio Bastardo agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal. Bastardo is one of the best left-handed relievers going these days, posting a 2.98 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 64/26 K/BB ratio over 57 1/3 innings this past season ... The Padres have an agreement in place with free agent reliever Fernando Rodney. After they traded both Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit this offseason, Rodney could find himself vying for saves with the Friars in 2016.