While Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton has indeed become the 'human trade machine' -- as ESPN.com's Jayson Stark so aptly predicted -- at the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville this week, he may not be the big trade chip the organization is forced to move in order to acquire a coveted shortstop.
On Wednesday afternoon, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported that the Diamondbacks were engaged in talks with the Cleveland Indians, and among the players being discussed between the two clubs were two-time All-Star shortstop Asdrubel Cabrera and 21-year-old pitching phenom Trevor Bauer.
General manager Kevin Towers told Arizona Sports 620's Doug & Wolf Wednesday that despite on-going trade discussions no move was imminent, but he did suggest that the team is more likely to give up a young pitcher to acquire a player of Cabrera's ilk, than they are of shipping out one of their outfielders -- be it Upton or Jason Kubel.
"It's more likely we keep the outfield in tact and move some of our pitching to get the shortstop," Towers said. "The shortstop doesn't necessarily have to be major-league ready. It's a light market this year and will likely be a light market next year.
"If we have to start out the year with [Cliff] Pennington and [Willie] Bloomquist, and [John] McDonald, we won a pennant two years ago with a similar sitation so we can live with it...But we have a lot of pitching depth and could probably afford to move one of our young starters to get that top-end shortstop."
In addition to Bauer, who the team drafted just two years ago with the No. 3 overall pick, the Diamondbacks also have two other budding talents in Tyler Skaggs (1-3 record with a 5.83 ERA in 29 1/3 innings of work in 2012) and Patrick Corbin (6-8 record with a 4.54 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 107 innings of work in 2012).
26-year-old left-hander Wade Miley, who finished second in the 2012 Rookie of the Year voting, could also pique some teams' curiosity after going 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA last season.
As it pertains to Upton, Towers has made it known throughout his tenure in Arizona that he's willing to listen to any and all trade calls on his star right fielder, but he said Wednesday that the organization is well-aware that he likely will become more and more consistent with age like a Josh Hamilton or Adrian Gonzalez.
"Justin's probably had more success early in his career than either of those guys," Towers said referring to Hamilton and Gonzalez. "Eventually those guys hit it and became really consistent. It happens and we certainly recognize that.
"We think a lot of [Justin]. You can see that here. It has to be a great baseball deal for us to really include him in a deal. People continue to ask about him, and I am sure they will after we leave Nashville, but no player that's been presented to us has been better than Justin Upton."