- The Seattle Mariners signed Justin Upton to a one-year deal to bolster their outfield
- Upton will need to get back in shape during spring training
- Upton’s performance is expected to be better than what his MLB numbers are showing
The Seattle Mariners need some help at bat and have taken a chance on veteran outfielder Justin Upton.
The Mariners signed the four-time All-Star to a one-year Major League deal, the team announced Saturday night.
Upton is expected to report to extended spring training as he works on getting back into shape, MLB.com reported.
With Upton’s arrival, the Mariners have designated right-hander Adrian Sampson for assignment to make space on their 40-player roster.
The three-time Silver Slugger Award winner was released by the Los Angeles Angels in April. He has struggled in the past seasons to find himself on the right side of the league-average rank, CBS Sports reported.
Since 2019, the Virginia native has hit only .211/.299/.414 (90 OPS+) with 38 home runs in 784 trips to the plate.
Upton previously played for five MLB teams before signing with the Mariners. Aside from the Angels, he also had stints with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres and the Detroit Tigers.
The move to sign Upton comes after Seattle optioned outfielder Jarred Kelenic to Triple-A Tacoma on May 13.
Upton gives Seattle a proven power at bat in the outfield as well as a designated hitter. These are two areas where the Mariners have been struggling on the offensive end.
Before signing Upton, the Mariners combined for a slash line of .219/.288/.327 with nine home runs, while their DHs have a .142/.250/.312 line with six home runs.
Upton could try to follow in the footsteps of Albert Pujols, who found greater success with the Dodgers after being released by the Angels, according to CBS Sports. The outlet noted that Upton lacks a carrying skill compared to Pujol, who was given an optimized role due to his numbers against left-handed pitching.
Upton owns a .738 OPS against left-handed pitching in the past three seasons and ranks in the 27th percentile among right-handed batters.
However, pundits believe that Upton can still offer more and better than his current numbers. His .838 OPS against lefties last season was his highest since 2017. His multi-year ball-tracking metrics also suggested that he should've had better topline results.
It remains to be seen how long Upton will need to put in work in spring training before getting the call. With Mitch Haniger and Kyle Lewis injured, Seattle has been relying on Dylan Moore and Steven Souza Jr.
With Upton onboard, the Mariners are expected to get a huge boost in the outfield.