Detroit — When Justin Upton signed his six-year, $132.75 million contract with the Tigers, exactly one year ago to the day, there was a lot of talk about the opt-out clause he negotiated after the second year.
“Opt-outs generally are in there and people will exercise them,” Upton’s agent Larry Reynolds said last year. “But we wanted to emphasize that it was not our intent to come here for two years. Justin has been on enough teams. He needs to stay put for a minute.”
Reynolds explained that the opt-out was negotiated as a compromise.
“He’s 28 years old and we felt like, consistent with the market, he should warrant a seven- or eight-year contract,” he said. “When it came down to it, we offered two scenarios. The second scenario, which they obviously took, was the opt-out.
“But the intent is not to get out of a contract. It’s just something we felt we had to do.”
Well, here we are, a year later and Upton, after enduring possibly the worst slump of his career, is coming off a 31-homer, 87-RBI season. Whether the opt-out clause makes him a more or less desirably trade chip at the trade deadline remains to be seen.
But Upton said he is not treating this season as a contract year.
“No,” he said. “Nothing like that.”
Truth is, he’s become comfortable with the Tigers and he was relieved he wasn’t traded in the offseason.
“Honestly, we negotiated the contract and I have the option to stay here or not,” he said. “But it’s not something that’s in my mind. It’s there if I need it. But I don’t anticipate really needing it, if we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.
“If it wasn’t a fit, then maybe. But I feel like I fit.”