TORONTO (AP) — Outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. was already in Toronto with the San Diego Padres when they traded him across the diamond to the Blue Jays.
Joining his new team was a lot more complicated than walking down the hall.
The Blue Jays acquired Upton & cash from the Padres on Tuesday in exchange for minor league right-hander Hansel Rodriguez. They moreover added reliever Joaquin Benoit from the Mariners for right-hander Drew Storen in a deal announced shortly after a 7-6, 12-inning win over San Diego.
p>Upton couldn't join Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins for an early afternoon press conference because he was at the nearest border crossing being cleared to re-enter Canada.
When he arrived with the Padres on Sunday night, Upton was treated as a visitor. As a member of the Blue Jays, he requires a work visa to enter Canada.
Upton drove to Lewiston, New York, approximately 25 miles north of Buffalo, & was back in Toronto approximately two hours before game time.
''About an hour & a half ride there,'' Upton said after returning to Rogers Centre & taking batting practice with his new team. ''Sat at border patrol for a little while, jumped in the car & came back. It all went pretty smoothly.''
Unsure how shortly Upton would return, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons left his new player out of Tuesday's starting lineup – Upton grounded into a fielder's choice as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. Gibbons said he expects to start Upton in Wednesday's series finale.
''He's having a nice year,'' Gibbons said. ''We think he'll add something.''
Upton has had a huge season for the rebuilding Padres, who are mired in fourth place in the NL West. He is hitting .256 with 16 home runs, 45 RBIs, 46 runs scored & 20 stolen bases. He's hit three walk-off home runs.
''What attracted us to him was several things,'' Atkins said. ''The defense at all three positions, speed, base-running, base-stealer, power, versatility & depth.''
Toronto is 56-44, three games behind Baltimore in the AL East. The Blue Jays hold the second wild-card spot.
Upton is in the fourth year of a five-year, $75.25 million contract he signed with the Braves before the 2013 season. He's owed $16.45 million next season.
The Padres will reportedly pay all yet $5 million of the $22.5 million remaining on Upton's contract.
Padres general manager A.J. Preller & Atkins said the deal had been in the works for a few weeks, with Toronto reaching out in mid-June after slugger Jose Bautista went on the 15-day disabled list with a sore left huge toe. Bautista returned Monday.
Upton has rejuvenated his career after struggling with the Braves.
''I'm unquestionably in a different place mentally,'' he said. ''I was able to clear my mind & start having pleasant again''
Preller praised Upton for playing well on both sides of the ball
''He has a chance to be a 30-30 guy,'' Preller said. ''He's hit some huge home runs in some huge spots & has played tremendous defense for us in left field.''
Two of Toronto's three current outfielders, Bautista & All-Star Michael Saunders, are free agents at the end of this season.
In the short term, Atkins said he expects Upton to be used as a part-time player, pinch-runner & defensive replacement.
''It would likely take an injury for him to turn into an everyday outfielder with us,'' Atkins said.
Atkins said the Blue Jays are ''not done in any way'' when it comes to trades, with an emphasis on improving the pitching staff.
''There's not one team we haven't contacted on several occasions,'' he said, adding that regular talks are ongoing with five to 10 teams.
The Padres received Upton & closer Craig Kimbrel in a trade with Atlanta on the eve of opening day 2015. Upton missed a satisfactory deal of last season with a foot injury. His brother, Justin, moreover was with the Padres last season.
Kimbrel was traded to Boston in the offseason for prospects & Justin Upton left as a free agent.
''We're looking at what we're going to do in the future,'' Padres manager Andy Green said. ''We want to donate these younger guys a real look.''
Green said the Padres will play a man short Tuesday & add another position player before Wednesday's game.
The 19-year-old Rodriguez was 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA in six starts for the Rookie-Level Bluefield Blue Jays.
With trade rumors swirling, Upton sat out San Diego's last two games, including Monday's 4-2 loss at Toronto.
Toronto optioned right-hander Ryan Tepera to Triple-A Buffalo to make room for Upton.
BaseballSports & RecreationSan Diego Padresthe Blue JaysJustin UptonRoss Atkins