The 25 biggest MLB stories of the 2010s

The 2010s for Major League Baseball were full of many moments that moved the sport ahead in ways that were previously unimaginable. The way the game was played and managed changed more than it had in decades prior. Championship droughts were ended with regularity, and new management introduced previously unimaginable elements to the game. Between it all, some amazing players made their debuts, while others had the signature moments of their already legendary careers. It was a busy decade for the national pastime; here’s a look at the signature events that defined it. 1 of 25

25. The extension of safety nets

While the chance at grabbing a foul ball has long been one of the most enticing parts of the live MLB experience, at the same time the chance of injury became far too frequent of an occurrence. An increasingly alarming number of fans — including some young ones — were being injured by foul balls, and the vast majority of Major League Baseball teams began taking action. By 2018 all teams had extended netting completely around the home plate area, but in coming years, there is the possibility that netting will be extended foul pole to foul pole, which the Chicago White Sox have already done. 2 of 25

24. Clayton Kershaw dominates for Dodgers

Although his postseason struggles continue to haunt him, there is no disputing that Kershaw had one of the greatest pitching runs of all time. An eight-time All-Star with three NL Cy Young Awards and league MVP honors in 2014, Kershaw was the most decorated hurler of the decade. He had the lowest ERA in the majors five times, becoming the first player to ever do so in four consecutive seasons, from 2011 to 2014. His 2.44 career ERA since 2011 is 1.63 runs below the league-wide ERA for the decade. 3 of 25

23. Indians 22-game winning streak

Already in first place with a 5.5 game cushion on Aug. 24, following their 13-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox, the 2017 Indians wouldn’t lose again for nearly a month. Over the next three weeks, the Indians would win 22 straight games, a run that included seven shutouts and was capped by a thrilling 10-inning victory to clinch the second-longest streak of all time, outright. It was the longest winning streak in 82 years and pulled Cleveland 13.5 games up in the AL Central en route to a second consecutive AL Central title.

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22. Shohei Ohtani does double duty

He seemed too good to be true: a two-way talent with a 98-mph fastball who can hit home runs with ease and can do both full time? But Shohei Ohtani showed as advertised upon his arrival in America in 2018, becoming the first player since Babe Ruth to hit at least 15 home runs and pitch at least 50 innings in the same season. On his way to the AL Rookie of the Year Award, Ohtani hit 22 home runs and went 4-2 on the mound while averaging 11 strikeouts per nine innings on the mound. 5 of 25

21. The improbable run of the Washington Nationals

After being 12 games under .500 in late May, the Nationals won 65 percent of their games from June on and advanced to the World Series from the wild-card game. In the postseason they defied the odds to extraordinary levels, sandwiching an NLCS sweep of the Cardinals by beating two of the best teams in the NL and AL respectively, the Dodgers and Astros. Riding the potent rotation of Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin and eventual 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, Washington became the first team in history to win all of its World Series games on the road. 6 of 25

20. Decade of the prodigy

The youth was indisputably served in the 2010s, as there was a huge uptick in ready-to-play prospects reaching the majors. The single-season rookie home run record was broken twice in three years’ time, with Aaron Judge hitting 52 in 2017…before Pete Alonso hit 53 in 2019. Mike Trout became the youngest player to have a WAR of 9.0 or greater, in 2012, and Bryce Harper became the third-youngest MVP of all time, in 2015. Add in Ronald Acuna, Juan Soto, Jose Fernandez, Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, Corey Seager and Kris Bryant, and it was as potent of an early-career impact era as ever.

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19. The death of Roy Halladay

A two-time Cy Young Award winner and one of the two pitchers in history with a postseason no-hitter, Halladay was one of the greatest players of his era. Just shy of four years after his retirement, Halladay tragically crashed a plane he had recently purchased off the Florida coast. He was only 40 years old. In 2019, Halladay would go on to become the first posthumous first-ballot Hall of Fame selection since Roberto Clemente in 1973. 8 of 25

18. The end of the All-Star Game/World Series advantage

The controversial decision to award home-field advantage to the victorious league in the All-Star Game came to an end heading into the 2017 season. It also ushered in an era in which regular-season merit meant more than ever for the first time. The 2017 World Series was the first one ever to be hosted outright by the winningest regular-season team. From 1903 to 2002, home-field advantage was determined via a mixture of coin flips and alternating between leagues, and, as mentioned, from 2003 to 2016, the All-Star Game winner earned the rights. 9 of 25

17. The Giants win three World Series

In the first half of the decade, the Giants made capturing World Series championships a bi-annual event. Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner and manager Bruce Bochy were the mainstays for the franchise, as they captured the pennant in 2010, 2012 and 2014, their first since moving to San Francisco in 1958. Built around strong starting pitching, bullpen depth and defense, the Giants never won more than 94 games in any of their championship seasons but rose to the occasion in the postseason, going 12-4 in World Series play.

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16. The video game baseball of the 2017 World Series

The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers squared off in one of the biggest thrill rides the Fall Classic has ever seen. Over the course of the seven-game showdown, a record 25 home runs were hit, including a record-tying five by George Springer. The Astros hit a single-game record of eight in Game 2. The signature game of the series came in Game 5, a 13-12 thriller that featured five lead changes from the seventh inning on and had six game-tying home runs before a walk-off Alex Bregman single in the 10th inning. 11 of 25

15. Albert Pujols signs with the Anaheim Angels

Shortly after winning the 2011 World Series in St. Louis, Pujols headed into free agency for the first time in his career. Interest was obviously high in the three-time National League MVP, but it was hard to imagine him leaving the franchise he was synonymous with. But when negotiations with the Cardinals stalled, Angels owner Arte Moreno swooped in with a record 10-year, $254 million contract to bring Pujols west in one of the most stunning free agent coups of all time. 12 of 25

14. The deaths of Jose Fernandez, Oscar Taveras, Yordano Ventura and Tyler Skaggs

The decade also saw a string of tragic deaths to promising young talents still well shy of their 30th birthdays. Promising Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic at 22 years old in 2014. Three years later, promising Kansas City pitcher Yordano Ventura suffered the same fate. In 2016 Jose Fernandez, already a two-time All-Star at age 24, died via a boating crash in Miami Beach. Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died suddenly in July due to complications from an accidental drug overdose.

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13. Tanking a regular event

Over the course of the decade, it became more prevalent than ever for non-competitive teams to sell off to extents never seen before. “Tanking” led to teams that struggled at times to resemble minor league rosters, as down-and-out teams broke up and jockeyed for draft pick positioning harder than trying for real-time wins. In the process parity hit all-time lows, as records were set for number of 100-win and 100-loss teams co-existing in 2018 and again in 2019. 14 of 25

12. Miguel Cabrera completes the Triple Crown

Since Carl Yastrzemski last completed the Triple Crown in 1967, many had accomplished two legs of the pursuit but none had finished it. That was until Miguel Cabrera did so in 2012, completing what was becoming believed to be impossible in the contemporary game. In claiming the crown, the Detroit Tigers slugger hit for a .330 batting average, with 44 home runs and 130 RBI en route to the American League MVP Award as well. 15 of 25

11. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado cash in

The dual free agency of Harper and Machado was a spectacle that was over a year in the making, as the two precocious talents reached free agency together in the winter of 2019. While neither reached the rumored $400 million level during their time on the open market, both did set new records for free agent pacts. Machado struck first, getting 10 years and $300 million from the San Diego Padres, followed by Harper’s $330 million over 13 years from the Philadelphia Phillies.

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By: Matt Whitener

Angels have considered offering 10 years, $350M to Mike Trout

With Mike Trout down to his penultimate season of team control, the Angels have recently considered offering the center fielder a record-breaking contract – a $350M extension over 10 years – though it’s unclear if they’ve actually proposed it, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (subscription required). Per Rosenthal, the accord would run from 2021-30, Trout’s age-29 to 38 seasons, meaning the future Hall of Famer would finish out the remaining two years and $66.5M on his current contract before the extension would take effect.

A $350M guarantee would be the highest in the history of baseball, quickly unseating the $330M pact Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper received this week. It would also set a new high-water mark for average annual value at $35M, defeating Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Greinke’s $34.4M per year. Still, as Rosenthal rightly observes, neither number appears adequate for Trout – a seven-time All-Star and two-time American League MVP who, at age 27, is already one of the greatest players in the history of the game.  Since his first full season in 2012, Trout has posted a ridiculous 64.0 fWAR, just over 27 wins more than second-place man Josh Donaldson, while easily leading the majors in wRC+ (174, 17 percent better than runner-up Joey Votto) and slashing .310/.420/.579 with 235 home runs and 185 stolen bases across 4,538 plate appearances.

Just as Trout has lapped his competition on the diamond, he’s on track to do the same on his forthcoming deal – whether he signs an extension in the next two years or reaches free agency after 2020. Harper, the Padres’ Manny Machado (10 years, $300M) and the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado (eight years, $260M) have each signed enormous contracts in recent weeks, but as superb as they’ve been, their careers pale in comparison to Trout’s.

Since he first graced the majors in 2011, Trout has produced nearly $500M in on-field value, according to FanGraphs. Trout has a case to aim for that figure (or $400M-plus at minimum) on his next contract, but it doesn’t seem he’s in any rush to determine his long-term future just yet, having already achieved financial security when he landed a $144.5M extension back in March 2014. When asked Friday if he’d be open to discussing a second extension with the Angels this spring, Trout didn’t slam the door shut, but he did suggest he’s more worried about readying himself for the regular season.

If Trout holds off on an extension, the Angels’ performance as a team this season could impact whether he’ll be open to discussions next winter. Trout “desperately” wants to win and has done everything in his power to carry the Angels to glory, but they’ve been startlingly inept despite his presence. Through the first seven full campaigns of Trout’s career, the Angels have earned just one playoff berth and haven’t even won a single postseason game. They’re now mired in a four-year playoff drought and haven’t finished above .500 since 2015.

Original Article

By: Connor Byrne

5 reasons Padres are quietly interesting in ’18

The best way to describe how difficult — how relentless — it has been to be a fan of the San Diego Padres over the last 10-12 years is to note that the one moment the Padres had the unfocused attention of the baseball world is probably the franchise’s most self-destructive decision.

That moment was the 2015 offseason spending spree that then-new general manager A.J. Preller kicked off, trading for (deep breath) Matt Kemp and Justin Upton and Wil Myers and Derek Norris and Brandon Maurer and Will Middlebrooks, and then signing James Shields, who at the time was the most enticing free agent pitcher remaining. He finished it off by trading for Craig Kimbrel, because at that point, why not? The Padres had been a mostly nondescript, conservative, not entirely relevant team for far too long, and Preller, an ambitious, hotshot thirty-something wunderkind, wanted to shake things up. So he went nuts. It was Prellerpalooza. It was the most that many of us had thought about the Padres in years. It was a blast.

And it did not work. It quite definitively did not work. The 2015 Padres were worse than they were in 2014, and it was obvious from the get-go. You can see what Preller was thinking: This franchise is moribund and stagnant, so I’ll blow it up and see what happens. What happened was the Padres were still bad and not any more exciting on the field. So it is to Preller’s credit that he recognized Prellerpalooza was a bust and rather than doubling down on it, he took down the rafters, canceled the next tour and retreated. You had to admire it. Teams are constantly tearing down and building for the future. Preller, in his first days on the job, took one big giant swing. He missed. But he shot his shot. And when that didn’t work, he started over. Some GMs start over immediately. You have to love that he went for it.

So, we are now in Season Three of the Post-Prellerpalooza Padres Reconstruction, and we’ve all gone back to ignoring the Padres like we have for the previous decade, but guess what? The Padres are quietly sort of interesting! After winning two out of three on the road against a listless Cardinals team that seems to be entering into some sort of midlife malaise, the Padres, wouldn’t you know it, are starting to make a little noise. They’re still in last place in the tough National League West, but they’re only a game behind the Giants and a game-and-a-half behind the Rockies, a team that was in first place a week ago. They have a better record than the Mets, the Twins and the Blue Jays — three teams that considered themselves contenders heading into this year. They’re 22-17 since May 1. The Padres aren’t half bad!

It’s a little early for the Padres to start calling themselves contenders, even in the muck that is the NL West. But they currently have the highest winning percentage of Preller’s reign, with one of the youngest teams in the sport and MLB Pipeline’s top farm system in the game. It certainly looks like Preller and company are starting to get this ship turned around. Let’s take a look at five things the Padres are doing right this season, and how they may portend to a better future … and maybe another Prellerpalooza someday.

1. The bullpen: If you want to see why the Padres are rising and, say, the Cardinals are fading, look at their series this week. The Cardinals’ bullpen has been racked by injuries and mismanagement, to the point that there are only two relievers manager Mike Matheny trusts, and one of them is 21 years old. Meanwhile, the Padres on Tuesday threw out a bullpen game for the third time in three weeks … and the relievers were fantastic, even taking a perfect game into the sixth inning. Wednesday, they threw three more shutout innings to hold on for their second 4-2 win in a row. Brad Hand has been the standout — and could be some handy trade bait next month — but the Padres have options everywhere, from veterans like Craig Stammen and Kirby Yates (who has given up three runs in 27 innings) to youngsters like Adam Cimber and Jose Castillo, who struck out all four batters he faced Thursday. The Padres throw a ton of different looks at you, and the supposedly vaunted Cardinals lineup was befuddled all three games of the series.

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By Will Leitch

MLB Teams To Add Protective Netting

Written by Charlotte Carrol at SI.com

After a young girl was struck by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium during a Yankees–Twins game on Wednesday, the Reds became the first team to respond by announcing a plan to increase netting at its stadium, Great American Ballpark. The Mariners, Padres and Rockies have since followed suit.

“The Reds’ ongoing commitment to providing the best ballpark experience includes maintaining the safety and security of our fans,” the statement said.

The Mariners also announced a plan to increase netting at Safeco Field, but said the specifics of the plan are still being discussed.

“This is an issue that we’ve been concerned about for some time,” Mariners president Kevin Mather said. “We still have some details to work out, but the bottom line is expanded netting at Safeco Field is going to happen.”

The Padres’ statement specified that they will extend netting to the end of each dugout by Opening Day 2018.

Colorado didn’t unveil specific plans so much as acknowledge that the team is looking into expanding the netting. The Rockies highlighted “engineering issues” and vendor selection as parts of the process that make the endeavor so complex.

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Padres, Royals, Made Six Player Trade

Written by Matt Snyder at CBS Sports.com

The Padres and Royals announced a six-player trade on Monday, in which Kansas City adds three arms to their big-league pitching staff. The details:

Royals get: RHP Trevor Cahill, RHP Brandon Maurer, LHP Ryan Buchter
Padres get: LHP Travis Wood, LHP Matt Strahm, IF Esteury Ruiz, cash considerations

The Royals are hot right now, having won five straight games, and are looking for one last deep playoff run before much of the nucleus hits free agency after the season. This is a pretty savvy move to bulk up the pitching staff without coughing up a ton of future value.

Cahill, 29, will step in and serve as the Royals’ fifth starter behind Danny Duffy, Jason Vargas, Ian Kennedy and Jason Hammel. Cahill was 4-3 with a 3.69 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 72 strikeouts in 61 innings this season in 11 starts for the Padres. He’s been particularly effective with his curveball.

Buchter is a 30-year-old left-hander who has a 3.05 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings this season. He’s not a specialist, as he’s held right-handed hitters to a .214/.302/.417 line this season.

Maurer, 27, is 20 for 23 in save situations this season. His ERA is a robust 5.72, but his peripherals show that he should improve. he has 38 strikeouts against eight walks in 39 1/3 innings and has only allowed four homers. His FIP is just 3.23 while his WHIP is 1.20. So he’s not nearly as bad as his ERA looks. He won’t be closing games for the Royals, either.

So the Royals add a starting pitcher and two likely useful relievers in this deal. What did they send to S.D.?

Wood, a 30-year-old lefty, has a 6.91 ERA, 1.82 WHIP and has struck out 29 against 20 walks in 41 2/3 innings this year. He’s signed for $6.5 million next season and there’s a mutual option ($8M) with a $1.5 million buyout for 2019. We’ve got to figure this is where the “cash considerations” come in, because Wood, as he’s currently performing, is making way too much money next season.

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Wil Myers Hit First Cycle Of Season

Written by The AP At USA Today.com

Andy Green started screaming “three!” the moment Wil Myers ripped a line drive to the left-center gap leading off the eighth inning.

“I was screaming three to myself,” Myers said. “Inside. I wasn’t screaming out loud.”

Myers stumbled around second base but easily made it to third for a triple that completed the first cycle of his career, and the Padres beat the Colorado Rockies 5-3 on Monday night.

Myers singled in the first, doubled in the third and homered in the sixth to help the Padres win for the third time in four games. Matt Kemp had the only other cycle in San Diego history on Aug. 14, 2015, also at Coors Field.

“Those moments don’t happen very often,” Green said. “To see somebody get it, someone like Wil, kind of the cornerstone of your franchise, it’s a lot of fun to watch.”

Hunter Renfroe also homered for the Padres, a two-run shot. Miguel Diaz (1-0), the second of six San Diego pitchers, went one inning to get his first major league win.

DJ LeMahieu and Mark Reynolds homered for the Rockies.

Jarred Cosart started for San Diego in place of Trevor Cahill, who went on the 10-day disabled list Sunday. Cosart was solid for four innings, holding the Rockies without a run and inducing three double plays to get out of jams.

“Guys are going to get on base,” Cosart said. “If they don’t score any runs, it doesn’t matter how you do it.”

He left with a 1-0 lead on Myers’ RBI double in the third but didn’t get the win because he didn’t last five innings.

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Which Former MLB Top Prospects To Watch For A Breakout in 2017

Written by Ben Reiter at SI.com

Is it time to rename the Gordometer? Now in its sixth spring of existence, the Gordometer is an instrument SI created to assess the probability that an annual set of former top prospects, who each experienced years-long struggles upon reaching the majors, might finally put everything together—and not a moment too soon.

That’s what the Gordometer’s namesake—the Royals’ Alex Gordon, once a second overall draft pick and Baseball America’s second ranked minor league prospect—did in 2011, when he was 26. It was the from-the-blue start of a run of production that included four Gold Gloves, three All-Star selections, a World Series ring and a four-year, $72 million free agent contract.

Now 33, Gordon’s career seems to have finally reached its downswing. He hit just .220 last year, with 17 homers, 40 RBIs and a .692 OPS. Should we rechristen this thing the J.D. Martinezmeter? The Murphometer? The Turnerometer?

You know what? Gordon’s still the archetype. We’ll give it one more year. Here, then, is this year’s slate of potential late bloomers who might follow in his footsteps, assembled with the help of a panel of pro scouts who watched each of them extensively this spring. The scouts provided the Gordometer ratings, which range from one Gordon head (meaning it’s not going to happen) to four Gordon heads (get your popcorn ready).

Yonder Alonso, A’s 1B

Alonso has always had the pedigree. Once the Reds’ seventh overall pick in the `08 draft out of the University of Miami and a four-time member of Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list, Alonso has never gotten results on the big league level befitting of a corner infielder. He’d couldn’t get playing time in Cincinnati, not behind Joey Votto, but the Reds mercifully dealt him to San Diego five winters ago in a trade that now looks terribly lopsided (they also sent away Brad Boxberger, Yasmani Grandal and Edinson Volquez in exchange for just Mat Latos). In four years with the Padres, and one with the A’s, Alonso still hasn’t cracked double digits in homers, and he’s never hit better than .282 or driven in more than 62 runs.

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Padres Plan To Have A Prospect That Catches and Pitches

Written by Ted Berg at FTW.com

There, out on the pitcher’s mound in the middle innings of a sparsely attended, sun-baked Cactus League game between a couple of clubs that finished dead last in the standings last season, stood one of the coolest things imaginable in Major League Baseball: A potential two-way player, vying to become the first man since World War II to see semi-regular work for a big-league team as both a pitcher and a catcher.

Christian Bethancourt’s transition from working behind the plate to working 60’6″ away from it, as detailed by Jorge L. Ortiz earlier this spring, began after he flashed a mid-90s fastball in 1 2/3 innings of mop-up work in two blowouts last season. A 25-year-old with a reputation for good defense behind the plate but without the offensive numbers to support regular playing time, Bethancourt worked on his pitching mechanics in the offseason and threw seven innings’ worth of winter ball in Panama. He did not entirely eschew catching this spring, but focused on honing his delivery and developing his secondary pitches to compete for a job in the San Diego bullpen.

Plenty of live-armed players transition to pitching in the minors and find success. But unlike most of them, Bethancourt actually reached the Majors as a position player first. And while guys like the A’s Sean Doolittle (a former first baseman), the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen (catcher), and the Rangers’ Matt Bush (infielder) gave up on their old gigs when moving to the mound, the Padres intend to maximize Bethancourt’s unusual versatility by using him at catcher and in the outfield — where he made 12 appearances last season — around his pitching duties.

If all goes to plan, Bethancourt will become the first two-way player since Brooks Kieschnick made 42 appearances out of the Brewers’ bullpen and started three games in left field and four more at DH in 2004. The last player to appear in at least three games as both a pitcher and a catcher in the same season was Mike Ryba for the Red Sox in 1942.

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Braves Trade for Matt Kemp

Written by David O’Brien at The Atlanta Journal Constitution

The Braves managed to rid themselves of Hector Olivera, trading the troubled outfielder to the San Diego Padres for two-time former All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp in a swap of bad contracts. And in the Braves’ case, a creative means of getting some right-handed power while cutting ties with a player they no longer wanted to be associated with.

Olivera, 31, is serving an 82-game suspension through Aug. 1 for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic-violence policy after being arrested April 13 and charged with one count of misdemeanor assault and battery for allegedly beating a female acquaintance in an incident at the team hotel in Arlington, Va. She was treated a local hospital.

Kemp, 31, has hit .262 with 23 home runs — five more than Braves team leader Freddie Freeman — and 69 RBIs in 100 games this season, with 100 strikeouts, 16 walks and a career-worst .285 OBP and .489 slugging percentage. He’s hit .313 (30-for-94) with runners in scoring position and .333 against left-handers.

“He’s someone who can help us out,” Braves general manager John Coppolella said. “We need to get back to winning games here. We think this guy can hit right behind Freddie Freeman, can give us some power that we sorely lack, and that he’ll be a really good help to our team on the field and off the field as we try to get back to being a playoff-caliber team.”

The Braves expect to have Kemp in uniform for Tuesday’s series opener against the Pirates at Turner Field, after an off day in the schedule Monday. He’s expected to bat cleanup and play left field unless the Braves trade right fielder Nick Markakis.

Kemp has played only right field the past two seasons, after playing 41 games in center and 44 games in left in 2014.

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Padres Trade Melvin Upton Jr. to Toronto


Written by Mike Axisa at CBSSports.com

Padres outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. is on the move, but not to the AL East team we all expected.

The Padres traded the elder Upton brother and cash considerations to the Blue Jaysfor minor league righty Hansel Rodriguez, the team announced Tuesday morning. The Padres happen to be in Toronto playing the Blue Jays, so Upton only needs to change dugouts this week.

A few days ago it was rumored Upton would be heading to the Orioles for Ubaldo Jimenez and two prospects, though obviously that deal did not come together. The deal fell apart over the financials. The Blue Jays swooped in to to get him instead.

Upton, 31, is batting .256/.304/.439 (100 OPS+) with 16 home runs, 20 stolen bases, and 45 RBI in 92 games with San Diego this year. He’s spent time in all three outfield spots, though he has seen his most action in left. Upton has spent the majority of his career in center field.

Rodriguez, 19, has a 3.06 ERA with 26 walks and 11 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings this season. MLB.com ranked Rodriguez as Toronto’s 18th best prospect before the season and said the “right-hander’s arm strength offers plenty to dream on.”

This is certainly not the type of trade that will put the Blue Jays over the hump and make them AL East favorites, but Upton is an upgrade to their bench, and every little upgrade counts. Here are five things to know about the trade sending Upton to Toronto.

1. The Padres are eating some money

Upton is owed another $22 million through the end of next season as part of the original five-year, $72.25 million contract he signed with the Braves four years ago. The Padres are eating money to facilitate this trade.

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