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J-Up happy he re-upped with close-knit Angels

MLB.com @mi_guardado

TEMPE, Ariz. -- When Justin Upton hit free agency two years ago, he languished on the market until mid-January before signing a six-year, $132.75 million deal with the Tigers. He could have tested the open market again this winter by exercising the opt-out clause in his contract, but he decided against it, preferring to sign a five-year, $106 million extension with the Angels, who acquired him from Detroit in an Aug. 31 trade last year.

Upton's decision proved prudent, as the activity on the free-agent market has unfolded at a remarkably sluggish pace this winter. Many prominent free agents, including Eric Hosmer, J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta and Mike Moustakas, remain unsigned, even with Spring Training underway for all 30 clubs.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- When Justin Upton hit free agency two years ago, he languished on the market until mid-January before signing a six-year, $132.75 million deal with the Tigers. He could have tested the open market again this winter by exercising the opt-out clause in his contract, but he decided against it, preferring to sign a five-year, $106 million extension with the Angels, who acquired him from Detroit in an Aug. 31 trade last year.

Upton's decision proved prudent, as the activity on the free-agent market has unfolded at a remarkably sluggish pace this winter. Many prominent free agents, including Eric Hosmer, J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta and Mike Moustakas, remain unsigned, even with Spring Training underway for all 30 clubs.

Video: Justin Upton is the No. 3 left fielder right now

"It hasn't been an enjoyable process for those guys," Upton said Saturday after reporting to Angels camp. "The fact that I avoided it ... in hindsight, I'm glad I did. I kind of got a taste of it two years ago when I was a free agent. I kind of understood the way the trend was going. At the end of the day, if you can avoid it, avoid it, because things are definitely different and they're changing."

The 30-year-old left fielder said he returned home after the regular season ended and gave himself a week to "digest everything" before sitting down with his wife to discuss their future in Southern California.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"She was happy with our month there, and at that point, we decided to explore if there was an opportunity for me to come back," Upton said. "At the end of the day, we got it done."

Upton, who posted an .887 OPS with seven home runs over 27 games with the Angels in 2017, cited the camaraderie of the clubhouse as one of the reasons why he decided to stay in Anaheim.

"You spend half of your year with a group of guys," Upton said. "I enjoyed the vibe of the clubhouse, how much fun the guys have playing the game. That's what you want to be part of. You want to be in the clubhouse, be on the field with these guys every day. That's what you look for."

Video: Kinsler persuaded by Upton, Ohtani signing

Upton said he is looking forward to welcoming his good friend and former Tigers teammate Ian Kinsler into the fold as well. In December, Upton's endorsement of the Angels helped convince Kinsler to waive his limited no-trade clause and accept a trade to Anaheim.

"I was excited," Upton said. "He's a guy that brings a lot of energy to the clubhouse and a good veteran presence. I thought he'd be a good fit here, and when we finally did get him, I enjoyed the move. I think the guys in here will, too."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Justin Upton