Justin Upton chooses Free Agency

Justin Upton chooses Free Agency

The Mariners announced they have reinstated the outfielder/designated hitter Kyle Lewis from the concussion injured list. To delete an active roster slot, they tried an option Justin Upton to Triple A Tacoma. A veteran of well over five years of MLB service, Upton exercised his right to decline an optional assignment in favor of free agency. Indeed, the transaction amounts to a release as Upton returns to the open market while Seattle vacates a spot in his 40-man roster.

Lewis has missed nearly two months after suffering a concussion in late May. It was the latest in a string of health problems for the 2020 AL Rookie of the Year, who lost most of last season to a meniscus injury in his right knee. Persistent knee problems kept Lewis from making his season debut until May 25, and he suffered the concussion within four games of his return. He will obviously be hoping for a longer stay after returning with a Seattle club carrying an astounding 14-game winning streak into the unofficial second half of the season.

The 27-year-old worked exclusively as a designated hitter in his four MLB games, but he got some left field work during his recent minor league rehab stint. The M’s used Carlo Santana as their primary designated batsman since taking it over from the Royals last month. The right field was primarily the purview of Sam Haggerty. Seattle will certainly be cautious as Lewis’ workload sees him back in, but this duo seems most likely to see their playing time cut short by his presence. This is all the more true if Mitch Haniger makes his return from a high ankle sprain; Seattle’s High-A daughter announced yesterday that he would start a rehab assignment of his own there this weekend.

For Upton, the move marks a pretty quick end to his time in the Pacific Northwest. Released by the Angels at the end of spring training, he signed a major league contract with the Mariners six weeks into the season. After spending some time working in game form, he was recalled to the Major League roster just over a month ago. That stint didn’t prove fruitful, however, as Upton stumbled to a .125/.263/.208 line with just one home run in 17 games. He didn’t have the benefit of regular playing time, but it was the continuation of underperforming production that eventually ended his stint in Orange County.

Upton is making $28 million this season in the last guaranteed year of his original renewal with the Halos. Los Angeles is essentially on the hook for that entire sum, with Seattle only paying him a prorated portion of the league’s $700,000 minimum for his month on the list. Another club would owe him the same amount if they brought him on board, although Upton seems likely to be limited to minor league offers following the struggle with the Mariners. If he wants to keep playing, he shouldn’t have a problem finding an opportunity outside the squad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.