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Angels parting ways with outfielder Justin Upton

Veteran outfielder Justin Upton was designated for assignment by the Angels on Saturday, marking the second consecutive year in which the team has swallowed a massive contract to clear playing time for younger players.

Upton, 34, is set to make $28 million in 2022, the final season of a five-year, $106-million contract extension he signed with the team before 2018. The Angels will have 10 days to trade Upton or release him, and the team acquiring or signing him will have to pay only $700,000 of his salary, with the Angels responsible for the rest.

Upton hit the ball hard this spring, batting .333 (five for 15) with three homers and 11 RBIs in seven games, but he is coming off three injury-marred seasons during which he hit .211 with a .713 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and had 38 homers and 103 RBIs in 194 games.

Upton’s departure will clear left field for the left-handed-hitting Brandon Marsh, 24, and the right-handed-hitting Taylor Ward, 28, who are expected to platoon at the position, with Jo Adell, 21, expected to start in right field. The Angels could rotate Marsh, Ward and Adell in the two corner spots.

Saturday’s move, which came five days before Thursday night’s regular-season opener against the Houston Astros, was reminiscent of one the Angels made last May, when veteran first basemen Albert Pujols was designated for assignment one month into the final season of a 10-year, $240-million contract that paid him $30 million last season.

That cleared first base for Jared Walsh, who hit .277 with an .850 OPS, 29 homers and 98 RBIs. He was named an American League All-Star for the first time.

Upton has a career .262 average and .814 OPS with 324 homers and 1,000 RBIs in 15 seasons. He hit .232 with a .764 OPS, 75 homers and 203 RBIs in his five seasons with the Angels.



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