Mariners sign Justin Upton to 1-year MLB deal

May 22nd, 2022

The Mariners announced Saturday that they have signed four-time All-Star outfielder Justin Upton to a one-year Major League deal.

Upton, 34, will be joining his sixth MLB team, with his latest stop being with the Angels from 2017-21. He has won three Silver Slugger Awards throughout his 15-year career, during which he has a .262 average with 324 home runs and 1,000 RBIs. He was released by the Halos prior to the '22 season.

“We’ll give him an opportunity when he’s ready,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said on Sunday. “We don’t have a date, timeline. I think that’s a communication between him, where he’s at, because he’s a veteran and he knows when [it’s], ‘OK, I’m good to go.’ But we’ve got to give him time to get up and running.”

The move comes after Seattle optioned outfielder Jarred Kelenic, a former top prospect, to Triple-A Tacoma on May 13.

Upton provides the Mariners with a proven power bat in the outfield or at designated hitter, two areas where they have struggled offensively. Their outfielders have combined for a slash line of .218/.285/.326 with nine home runs, while their DHs have a .155/.252/.331 line with six home runs. Overall the team is batting .234. Upton also put in some work at first base with the Angels during Spring Training earlier this year, but he's never appeared there during a regular-season game.

“He’s got a great track record, been in the league a long time, has a history of hitting left-handed pitching well throughout his career. He’s hit right-handed pitching well through his career, also,” said Servais. “It’s a veteran bat opportunity to bring someone in.”

Upton will report to extended spring training in Arizona and then get some game action at Tacoma before joining the big league club.

“He hasn’t been doing much recently,” noted Servais. “He’ll report down to Arizona, we’ll get him in extended and we’ll get him up and going there. I don’t know, he could be there 4, 5, 7 days, something like that. Then he will go to Tacoma.”

The club’s press release noted that, if and when he does appear in a game for Seattle, Upton will become the 10th player selected with the first overall Draft pick to play for the team, joining Floyd Bannister, Al Chambers, Jeff Burroughs, Mike Moore, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Tim Belcher, Andy Benes and Tim Beckham. Upton was selected with the top pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2005.