Well, we were just writing about how the Tigers have some history of making big splashes late in the offseason, and now here we are. Monday night, news broke that the Tigers have signed outfielder Justin Upton to a six-year, $125 million contract. The deal includes an opt-out clause after the second year, and the Tigers will sacrifice their third-round pick since Upton declined a qualifying offer.
Justin Upton reactions
One concern for many fans, as they tried to piece together platoons in left and center field, was the lack of offense against left-handed pitching. Upton bats right-handed and hits righties and lefties about the same, with a bit more power against southpaws. He boasts a 121 wRC+ and has hit .271/.352/.473 over his career.
Upton broke into the league at a very young age, and as a result reached free agency at 28 years old. His contract will last until his age-34 season, if he chooses not to opt out at age 30. He has spent his entire career in the National League, his early years with the Diamondbacks and the last three with the Braves and Padres. A rightfielder in Arizona, he transitioned to left field after leaving the desert and looks to be a slightly above-average defender.
The size of the contract is surprising to some. Even though many estimated that Upton would get something in this range – the notoriously conservative Fangraphs crowdsource project estimated six years and $120 million – it was also believed that the market for outfielders was softening as the winter progressed. Rumors floated that both Upton and Yoenis Cespedes were open to one-year deals, but so far there’s no actual evidence to support the idea that outfielders will sign at discounted rates.