Upton-to-Pirates talks could gain steam

The level of the Pirates’ interest in trading for Arizona outfielder Justin Upton has progressed from intriguing to exploratory, a result of blue-chip pitching prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon coming out of the equation.

The trade-off piece apparently is high, with Starling Marte having entered the discussion. The prospect of including Marte, who has a half-season of Triple-A experience, in a deal for Upton, who at only one year older is a Major League veteran of five-and-a-half seasons, is highly fascinating.

Talk are at a preliminary stage and, even if they progress, Marte and Upton figure to only be the central characters in a blockbuster deal involving many other names.

Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington likes the part of Upton remaining under club control through 2015, when the six-year contract he signed in March 2010 expires. Huntington is less excited about that contract having $42.5 million remaining on it.

Irony: Upton’s six-year, $51.25 million deal was one of the templates for the six-year, $51.5 million extension signed by Andrew McCutchen prior to the start of this season.

Tom Singer

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