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MLB trade rumors: Justin Upton dealt to Angels

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The Tigers are sending their best hitter west in exchange for Double-A pitcher Grayson Long.

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Updated: Outfielder Justin Upton has been traded to the Angels ahead of the midnight trade deadline. The Tigers will receive 23-year-old Double-A right-handed pitcher Grayson Long — full name: Grayson Ray Hays Long(!) — some amount of cash, and a low-minors player to be named later, per reports from Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter) and Jon Morosi (via Twitter).

Long, a third-rounder in the 2015 draft out of Texas A&M, has made 53 starts and has a 3.05 ERA for his career. He has 217 strikeouts and 77 walks in 218 career innings. Long was the Angels’ No. 9 prospect, per MLB Pipeline.

Long has the makings of a workhorse-type starting pitcher, with a strong and durable frame and a solid three-pitch mix. He can pitch off of his fastball well, a pitch that will sit around 90, but he can reach back and crank up close to 95 mph at times. It plays up because of its life and because of his ability, when he's on, to locate it well. His secondary stuff needs to develop, but his slider will flash above-average and he does have feel for a decent changeup. Long struggled with his control particularly in the AFL, but that was more likely caused by his lack of work during the season.

“Grayson has been a standout player this season in the Southern League, that features some of the best prospects in baseball,” said Tigers Al Avila when the team announced the trade. “Grayson is a workhorse-type starter who throws strikes and has a great makeup. Our scouts project him to be a starter at the Major League level. As for Justin Upton, he has been a consummate professional in his time here, and the Tigers wish him and his family all the best moving forward.”

Original: The Angels are “close to acquiring” Tigers outfielder Justin Upton, Ken Rosenthal reported on Thursday afternoon (via Twitter). Bob Nightengale seconds this (via Twitter). Upton is hitting .279/.362/.542 in 2017 for Detroit, and his 5.0 WAR (per Baseball Reference) is the highest on the team. His 28 home runs also lead the Tigers.

The 30-year-old Upton will be able to opt out of his contract after this season if he so chooses (which seemed likely to happen). If not he’ll be paid nearly $90 million over the next four years.

The Angels (69-65) are currently in the American League Wild Card hunt, 1 game behind the Twins (69-63) for the second position. They trail the Astros by 11 games in the AL West.

Old friend alert: The Houston Astros reportedly claimed Cameron Maybin off waivers from the Angels and will pay his salary.

Also: Jon Morosi reports the Tigers still may deal Justin Verlander today (via Twitter).

Why this matters: The Tigers are transitioning into a rebuilding phase. They might get a little something for Upton, who was probably leaving anyway, and at least they know for sure they won’t be on the hook for the remainder of his contract.

We’ll update the story as necessary.