Angels sign OF Justin Upton to Five-Year, $106 Million Deal
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim announced that they have come to terms on a five-year, $106 million contract with free agent outfielder Justin Upton. Upton, who was acquired in a surprising trade from the Detroit Tigers shortly before the waiver trade deadline on August 31, had the chance to opt-out of the deal he had originally signed with Detroit in the winter of 2015.
Upton originally inked a six-year, $132 million deal with the Tigers that included a player option after the second season. Upton scuffled a bit in his first season with Detroit before putting together one of his finest overall seasons in 2017. In 152 games with the Tigers and Angels combined, the 30-year-old outfielder slashed .273/.361/.540 with 35 home runs and 109 runs batted in. The home run and RBI totals were both career-highs.
Upton homered seven times in his 27 games in an Angels uniform, and the team was clearly impressed enough with him to offer him a new, long-term deal. Rather than opt-in to another four years and $88 million, Upton essentially agreed to extend that existing deal by another year with another $18 million attached to stay with the Halos.
The Angels wasted no time in addressing one of their top priorities heading into the offseason. Upton will now lock down a left field position that has essentially been a revolving door for the club over the last several years. Before Upton’s arrival for the season’s final month, the Angels had used a combination of Ben Revere, Cameron Maybin and Eric Young Jr. in left.
Future for the Angels
Los Angeles was one of a gaggle of teams in the American League Wild Card hunt all season long before falling short in the last few weeks of September. The Halos finished 80-82, which was good for second place in the American League West. However, they were still 21 games back of the first-place and eventual World Series champion Houston Astros.
The Halos are expected to be aggressive in free agency this winter, and the Upton deal is a good first step. The team is desperately attempting to get competitive while superstar Mike Trout is in his prime. The Angels have made just one playoff appearance over the course of Trout’s decorated five-year career to this point.
Now that the outfield trio of Upton, Trout and Kole Calhoun is set in stone, the Angels can now address holes at third base, first base and, potentially, catcher. The Halos may also attempt to find an upgrade to the starting rotation. The team additionally announced Thursday that they have declined the 2018 options on starter Ricky Nolasco and former closer Huston Street. Those moves will save the Angels about $21 million in salary heading into next season.
Potential Moves This Winter
Los Angeles is expected to be among the chief suitors for several of the top third basemen slated to hit the open market this winter. That list includes Kansas City Royals All-Star third-sacker Mike Moustakas, the Yankees’ Todd Frazier, the Brewers’ Neil Walker and the Red Sox’ Eduardo Nunez.
Yunel Escobar, who has occupied the hot corner for the Angels for each of the last two seasons, is set to be a free agent. The 35-year-old veteran is not expected to return to the club.
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