Upton could opt out after '17, still undecided

Upton could opt out after '17, still undecided

DETROIT -- Justin Upton had a split second to think about his path as he rounded second base on his third-inning home run Friday night. He wasn't thinking about his future as a Tiger, or his contract opt-out at the end of the season. He was thinking about whether he had touched first base.

"I knew I'd hit it with the side of my foot," Upton said Saturday, "but with replay, you never know. … Obviously I got to second and it took me a while to make the decision. All those things went through my head. It's like, 'If they replay this, then they might be able to overturn it.' So I decided to go back."

Actually, had the Dodgers challenged, he might have been out anyway, because he had gone past second base and had to retouch the bag on his way back to first. But that never happened, and Upton's home run stood in an eventual 8-5 loss to the Dodgers.

Though Upton is under contract for four more seasons under the six-year, $132.75 million deal he signed with the Tigers as a free agent two years ago, the contract includes a clause that allows him to opt out of the deal and become a free agent this offseason -- and only this offseason.

For all the speculation and reports, he said, he hasn't decided anything.

Upton's four-hit, two-homer game

"I can't make a decision on that right now, so that doesn't affect me right now," he said. "It's always nice to have options, but I think it's more interesting to you guys than it is to me. I would feel like I was lying to you guys if I gave you a realistic answer right now, because I haven't really even thought about it.

"I'll get home and spend time with my family and the playoffs will be going on and when it comes around to it, probably a week or two beforehand, at that point I'll start having conversations with my agent and my family. But I can't be more honest with you right now: I'm not worried about it. It's so far away, a couple months."

With a .285 batting average, 25 home runs, 88 RBIs and a .914 OPS heading into Saturday's game vs. the Dodgers, he has a case to test the market again and see if he can get a bigger contract. But he'd be leaving behind the security of four years and $88.5 million left on a contract he signed just a few weeks before Spring Training in 2016.

He hasn't had time to judge which other comparable outfielders will be available, but he trusts his longtime agent, Larry Reynolds, who waited out the market two years ago until the Tigers jumped in and was rewarded for it.

What the Tigers decide to do going forward could be a factor. He wants to be on a team that wins, he admits, but he also has a comfort level in Detroit that has helped him this year. He's also like many Tigers players watching general manager Al Avila's approach since the non-waiver Trade Deadline to see who's still around and who's moving.

"Those conversations will be had," Upton said. "I think all the veterans in here want to know what direction we're going and the future of the organization. Al's got an open door and I'm sure guys will try to figure out what's going on.

"Right now, all that stuff's a little too early to talk about. We still have baseball games to play. I think Al's been pretty up front with all the veteran guys here with his plans. He's pretty open about talking with us about baseball. When the time comes, we'll figure out what's next."

Until then, he expects speculation to continue.

"I think you guys can write a little bit more about it," he said. "You can have fun with it."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.