Justin Upton and Matt Kemp should probably keep their phones nearby. 

The outfielders have been two of the most talked-about players in MLB trade rumors this offseason. One baseball executive simply told Joel Sherman of the New York Post: “Justin Upton will be moved.” As for Kemp, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that “there is serious interest” in the 30-year-old. 

One attribute that both players have in common is the ability to hit for power—and a lot of it. In 2014, Upton clubbed 29 home runs, while Kemp posted a .606 slugging percentage in the second half of the season. With so few impact bats to be had on the free-agent and trade markets, that kind of pop is extremely valuable. 

While their offensive skill sets are similar, their contract situations couldn’t be more different. The 27-year-old Upton will make $14.5 million next season and is set to become a free agent at the end of the campaign. Meanwhile, Kemp is still owed $107 million through 2019. 

What follows is a rundown of the best potential packages and landing spots for the All-Star outfielders. The list begins with the Settle Mariners because the American League West club has been linked to both bats, per Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports


Seattle Mariners

The Targets: Upton and Kemp

It makes a lot of sense that the Mariners would be calling about both of these outfielders. 

Last year, the M’s had the lowest OPS in the AL, and the team was especially weak from the right side of the plate. As for Upton, the Atlanta Braves are looking to land a major haul. Sherman writes that the team is seeking a “higher return” than the Jason Heyward deal. 

In that four-player swap, Atlanta received right-hander Shelby Miller and pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins in exchange for Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden.

Seattle definitely has some talented young arms, with Taijuan Walker and James Paxton right at the top of the list. Parting with either of those starters would be a big risk, as the Mariners would only be guaranteed to have Upton under team control for one season. 

Kemp is under contract for five seasons, but his price tag is significantly higher as a result. Walker and Paxton would once again be logical names to begin the conversation with, but position players would have to be discussed, as well. 

With Hanley Ramirez joining the Boston Red Sox, the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the market for a new shortstop. Seattle has a couple of players who the Dodgers could target in Chris Taylor and Brad Miller. Last year in Triple-A, Taylor checked in with a .328 average and an .894 OPS. 


Houston Astros

The Target: Upton

According to Sherman, the Houston Astros are one of the teams that have “inquired” about Upton. 

Houston certainly has the prospects to make such a deal happen. Carlos Correa headlines the farm system, but the shortstop isn’t going anywhere. MLB.com tabbed the 20-year-old as the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball. Aside from Correa, the Astros still have some prominent names to offer up.  

As for pitching prospects, the Astros have Mark Appel, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft. Right-handers Mike Foltynewicz and Lance McCullers are two other pitchers who could be part of a potential deal. 

Houston also has some position players who are high-profile trade chips. Outfielder Domingo Santana ranks as the No. 50 prospect on MLB.com’s top 100. Plus, third baseman Colin Moran was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 draft. 

If Houston were to part with any of those names, the team would have to feel remarkably confident that it would be able to ink Upton to a contract extension. 


San Diego Padres

The Target: Kemp

The Dodgers and the San Diego Padres have discussed a possible trade involving Kemp, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports

Rosenthal tweets that the Padres have the pieces to help the Dodgers upgrade either their pitching staff or the catcher’s position. San Diego has the top catching prospect in baseball in Austin Hedges. MLB.com dubs Hedges the “best defensive catcher” in the minors and ranks him as the No. 22 prospect on the top-100 list. 

The NL West team also has a number of starting pitchers who could interest the Dodgers. According to Corey Brock of MLB.com, Ian Kennedy is the most available arm. Brock adds that the Padres would be “reluctant” to part with Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross. 

After Kemp posted a .971 OPS in the second half of 2014, San Diego would have to put together a highly compelling offer to pry Kemp away from its northern neighbor. 


Texas Rangers

The Target: Upton

The Texas Rangers have checked in on the availability of Upton, as Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com reports. When it comes to potential trade pieces, the Texas Rangers are loaded at the middle infield spots, as general manager Jon Daniels explained, via Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News

“It’s not a secret that we have depth there, Daniels said. Its an area of strength for us. We’ve talked about the possibility for a while. We just have to decide if now is the time to make a move there.”

Of course, the Braves already have a Gold Glover at shortstop in Andrelton Simmons. As a result, adding another middle infielder isn’t exactly a top priority for the club. However, the Rangers do have one infield prospect who would draw the interest of every team in baseball.

Last season, third baseman Joey Gallo connected on 42 home runs while splitting the year between High-A and Double-A. According to Rosenthal, the 21-year-old likely wouldn’t be “in play” in trade talks. 


Note: All stats courtesy of MLB.com. All salary information courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts on BaseballProspectus.com. 

If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck. 

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