Posted on November 2, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
When the Los Angeles Angels traded for Justin Upton late in August, they were taking a risk. Upton contract allowed him to opt-out after the season, so there was no guarantee he’d be back in 2018. However, the Angels have convinced Upton to forego the open market and stay with the team. The Angels announced Thursday that they have signed Upton to a 5-year, $106 million extension.
Upton could have continued along with his original deal and made $88.5 million over the next four years. By renegotiating, he will make slightly less per season but secures an extra year and more guaranteed money. The new deal also comes with a full no-trade clause, ensuring that Upton will remain with the Angels through the 2022 season.
“My family and I are happy and excited to be back with the Angels organization,” Upton said via Twitter. “After talking with (Angels GM) Billy Eppler several times, it was evident to me that (Angels owner) Arte (Moreno) and the whole organization is as committed to winning as I am, and that was the biggest factor in my decision to come back. I’m excited to get going and appreciate all the support I’ve received from Angels fans this season.”
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Despite getting traded from the Tigers to the Angels in late August, Upton had the best season of his career in 2017. He hit .273 with career-highs in home runs (35), doubles (44), RBIs (109), and OPS (.901). At age 30, Upton should have plenty of good years ahead of him, which is what the Angels are banking on with this extension.
With Upton signed long-term, the Angels now have great stability in both their outfield and the middle of their lineup. Upton figures to continue hitting behind Mike Trout, giving one of the premier hitters in baseball some much-needed protection. With Trout manning center field, Upton will become a fixture for the Angels in left field. Meanwhile, Kole Calhoun, will be the everyday right fielder for the Angels. Both Trout and Calhoun are signed through the 2020 season, so that trio should stay together for at least three years.
Thanks in part to Upton giving them a lift in September, the Angels finished second in the AL West this past season. Of course, at 80-82, it was a distant second behind the world champion Houston Astros. The Angels made a late push for the wild card, but for the second straight year, injuries to their pitching staff made it difficult for the Angels to remain competitive.
The hope for the Angels in 2018 is that their pitching staff will be able to stay healthy and give them a fighting chance to reach the postseason. Of course, the Astros figure to be heavy favorites in the AL West.
Outside of Andrelton Simmons and Luis Valbuena, the Angels face some question marks on the infield. But with Upton signed to an extension, the Angels have solidified their outfield and the middle of their batting order. Getting Upton onboard is no doubt a great way for the Angels to start the offseason.