D-backs, Upton Agree to 6-Year Extension
Justin Upton

Posted Mar 4, 2010


The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to terms on a six-year contract with outfielder Justin Upton through the 2015 season. The contract totals $51.25 million and represents the second-richest contract in franchise history.

The six-year agreement buys out Upton's remaining arbitration-eligible years (2011-13) and the two seasons (2014-15) he would have been eligible to become a free agent.

Justin Upton, 22, established himself as one of the top young players in Major League Baseball in 2009 by being selected to participate in his first All-Star Game and setting career highs in nearly every offensive category, including a .300 batting average, 26 home runs, 86 RBI, 84 runs scored, 20 stolen bases, and a .899 OPS. With his offensive numbers last season, he joined Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda as one of only two players in MLB history at age 21 or younger to compile at least a .300 average, 25 homers, 80 RBI and 20 stolen bases. Upton also led the major leagues with a .762 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers and his .899 OPS was the 12th-best mark by a major leaguer 21 years-old and younger since the game was integrated in 1947.

"Justin certainly is a core player," D-backs general manager Josh Byrnes said. "This contract will keep him here through 2015 and allows us to build around him and our other core players. He is committed to winning here and showed that throughout the negotiation process."

With a .836 career OPS after playing in two-plus major league seasons, Upton joins an elite group of sluggers in MLB history to have at least an .830 OPS by the age of 21. The list includes nine Hall of Famers (Hank Aaron, Cepeda, Jimmie Foxx, Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson, Ted Williams), two future Hall of Famers (Ken Griffey, Jr., Alex Rodriguez), a career All-Star (Vada Pinson), and a player whose career was cut short by injury (Tony Canigliaro).

Despite committing 11 errors as a right fielder in 2009, Upton is rated as the fifth-best outfielder at his position in MLB according to John Dewan's plus-minus rating, which rates a fielder's ability to turn batted balls into outs. Fangraphs.com's "Ultimate Zone Rating" rated Upton as the fourth-best right fielder in the big leagues with a 7.4 runs saved rating.

Upton was the overall No. 1 selection by the D-backs in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft out of Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake, Va. He spent a little more than one year in the minor leagues from 2006-07 before becoming the youngest player in D-backs history to make his major league debut at 19 years, 342 days old when he entered a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 2, 2007. Upton was also named USA Today's Minor League Player of the Year in 2007 after batting .319 with 18 home runs and 70 RBI in 103 combined games at Double-A Mobile and Single-A Visalia.


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