B.J. Upton Rumors

Olney On Upton, Pettitte, Wright

The center field market will be shaped in part by B.J. Upton’s deal with Atlanta, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney wrote today. Here are more notes from Olney’s column, starting with Upton…

  • The Braves signed Upton to a franchise record five-year, $75.25MM contract despite some warning signs that other organizations had identified, Olney writes. Upton has a declining on-base percentage and a bat that can be inconsistent. However, one of Olney's sources praised the deal. "He is the most talented player in the free agent market and somebody I think will age well," the person said.
  • The conversations about a 2013 contract between the Yankees and Andy Pettitte started at the GM Meetings earlier this month, agent Jim Murray told Olney. “We worked on it between then and now, talking fairly frequently," Murray said. Pettitte signed a one-year, $12MM contract yesterday.
  • Agents and executives agree that David Wright will take the Mets’ extension offer, Olney reports. It would be difficult to decline such a proposal, since there’s no guarantee he’d have similar long-term offers a year from now. MLBTR rounded up the latest on Wright earlier today. It appears the Mets have offered him $124MM for seven seasons starting in 2014.

Braves To Sign B.J. Upton

5:10pm: Topkin reports (on Twitter) there is no option, so it's a straight five-year contract.

4:49pm: It's a five-year, $75.25MM contract, Rosenthal reports (on Twitter).

4:40pm: It's a five-year deal worth $75MM, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times and ESPN.com's Buster Olney report (Twitter links).

4:22pm: It's a five-year deal, worth $70-75MM, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). 

4:11pm: The Braves have agreed to sign free agent center fielder B.J. Upton, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Reynolds Sports Management represents Upton, whose deal is pending a physical.

The 28-year-old ranked fifth on MLBTR’s list of the offseason’s top 50 free agents. In 633 plate appearances for the Rays this past season, Upton hit 28 home runs and posted a .246/.298/.454 batting line. The right-handed hitter would add balance to the Braves' lefty-heavy lineup. The Phillies were the runners up in the bidding for Upton, Nightengale reports (on Twitter).

Upton declined a qualifying offer from the Rays, which means the Rays are now eligible to obtain a top pick in the 2013 draft. The Braves will surrender their first round draft pick to sign Upton, though that selection won't go directly to Tampa Bay.

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick first reported the sides were in serious talks and Mark Bowman of MLB.com first reported they were nearing a deal. Mike Axisa contributed to this post.

Braves, B.J. Upton Nearing Deal

4:05pm: The Braves have spent most of the day in negotiations with Upton's representatives at Reynolds Sports Management, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter). The sides had no serious obstacles remaining by mid-afternoon.

3:55pm: The Braves are nearing a deal with Upton, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports (on Twitter).

3:42pm: The Braves and B.J. Upton are in serious talks about a multiyear deal, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports. The Braves and Phillies are known to be targeting Upton.

The 28-year-old ranked fifth on MLBTR’s list of the offseason’s top 50 free agents. In 633 plate appearances for the Rays this past season, Upton hit 28 home runs and posted a .246/.298/.454 batting line. The right-handed hitter would add balance to the Braves' lefty-heavy lineup.

This post was first published at 3:42pm CDT on November 28th.

East Links: Pettitte, Yankees, Upton

Rosters and Rumblings, a new podcast featuring MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith and Jason Martinez of MLB Depth Charts, debuted today. Check out the inaugural episode for discussion of Evan Longoria’s new deal, Jonathan Broxton’s contract talks with the Reds and B.J. Upton’s impact on the NL East. Speaking of the baseball's eastern divisions, here are some links…

  • Andy Pettitte still hasn't divulged whether or not he'll pitch in 2013, but he told Jack Curry of the YES Network via text message that a decision was coming soon (Twitter link). Curry adds that he thinks Pettitte will return to pitch for the Yankees.
  • The Yankees have hired former Major League manager and Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin as a scout, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
  • B.J. Upton's interest in the Braves "seemed to soar" following his meeting with GM Frank Wren, manager Fredi Gonzalez and future Hall of Famer Bobby Cox two weeks ago, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman.

Quick Hits: Giants, Cardinals, Wright

After a relatively quiet Thanksgiving week, it’s time for MLB teams to resume their offseasons. The Rays completed a historic deal today, signing Evan Longoria to an extension that will keep him in Tampa Bay through at least 2022. Here are some more news items as teams gear up for next week’s Winter Meetings…

  • The Giants each obtained $377K for winning the World Series and the Tigers obtained $284K each for winning the AL pennant, according to the Sports Network (via the Miami Herald). Check out the article for the complete details on how the $65MM players' pool was divided between the ten playoff teams.
  • Speaking of the Giants, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle hasn’t heard anything to suggest the Giants are in on Michael Bourn or B.J. Upton (Sulia link).
  • The Cardinals continue looking for a left-handed reliever, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. GM John Mozeliak said he believes in Marc Rzepczynski but intends to find another lefty reliever. "When he was a one-man band out there he didn’t pitch as well," the GM said. "That’s why we need to find someone.” Mozeliak repeated that he's open to signing a reliever to a multiyear deal.
  • The Mets haven’t yet seriously explored trade options involving David Wright, Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal reports (on Twitter). The club could explore potential trades eventually, but for now they remain hopeful of signing the third baseman to an extension. 
  • Teams are concerned about Dan Haren’s hip, not his back, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). Haren’s bad hip won’t prevent teams from showing interest, according to Olney.
  • Jason Grilli and Stephen Drew are among the undervalued free agents remaining on the open market, Jim Bowden writes at ESPN.com.

B.J. Upton Rumors: Sunday

Last night, we learned B.J. Upton is looking to make a decision sometime this week. Here are the latest rumors about the fifth-ranked player on MLBTR's Top 50 Free Agents list:

  • The Braves and Phillies are locked in a fascinating bidding war with a mystery third team, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio. The Braves are considered to have a slight lead with final offers due this week.
  • Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets he believes the Braves and Phillies are the two finalists for Upton, but the Reds also have some interest and possibly the Nationals.
  • O'Brien predicts the Braves will pay more than they wanted and sign Upton, although he thinks Michael Bourn is a better fit (Twitter links).
  • One aftershock of Upton's decision will be the pursuit of the Rockies' Dexter Fowler, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. If the Braves do sign Upton, the Phillies and Nationals could emerge as trade partners and the asking price will be very high.

Quick Hits: Upton, Figgins, Raburn, Rays, Orioles

Here's the latest from around the league as Saturday turns into Sunday…

Poll: Next Top Ten Free Agent To Sign

So far this offseason, only one of Tim Dierkes’ Top Ten Free Agents has signed a new contract: Hiroki Kuroda (#9) re-upped with the Yankees. That’s not at all uncommon at this point of the winter, as most top free agents tend to wait until the Winter Meetings in early-December before deciding on their next baseball home.

The market for outfielders Josh Hamilton (#2), Michael Bourn (#3), B.J. Upton (#5), and Nick Swisher (#6) have been pretty robust so far, ditto Zack Greinke (#1). Anibal Sanchez (#4) has generated some buzz as well, but things have been slow for Edwin Jackson (#7), Dan Haren (#8), and Kyle Lohse (#10). That will change soon enough. One of these guys will soon follow in Kuroda’s footsteps and ink a new deal, but who will it be first?

Amaro On Phillies, Upton, Bourn, Marlins

The Phillies haven’t made any major additions to their team to this point in the offseason, but they continue working to address their biggest needs, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. “We’ve had some good discussions, some fruitful discussions, with agents as well as other clubs,” Amaro said. “There are some situations where we’re waiting right now on someone to say ‘yes,’ and other situations where other teams are waiting for us to say ‘yes.’ It’s an interesting dynamic right now.” Here’s the latest on the Phillies, who are looking to contend again following an 81-81 season in 2012:

  • Amaro still wants to add at least one outfielder and a veteran reliever for the eighth inning. The club could also pursue help at third base, though that could depend on the team’s search for outfielders.
  • Reading between the lines, Salisbury suggests the Phillies have reached out to the Marlins to see if they’d trade Giancarlo Stanton in a follow up to Miami’s recent blockbuster trade with the Blue Jays. “We’ve made some inquiries about a lot of players that went in that trade, both to Toronto and to Miami,” the GM acknowledged. “But nothing imminent so far.”
  • Amaro said he has not received any indication that former Phillies closer Ryan Madson is opposed to pitching in a setup role. Madson underwent Tommy John surgery before the 2012 season and is now a free agent.
  • While B.J. Upton appears to be the Phillies’ top target, Amaro also mentioned free agents Angel Pagan, Michael Bourn and Shane Victorino as other potential center field options. “We can’t put all our resources in one area and not address others,” Amaro said. He added that the Phillies are more likely to add an outfielder or two in free agency than via trades.
  • Earlier this month I previewed the Phillies’ offseason.

Center Field Top Priority For Phillies

The Phillies are putting other needs on hold until they sign a center fielder, agents and executives told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. B.J. Upton has been identified as a priority for the Phillies, who invited the free agent to visit their park and city last week.

The 28-year-old could seek a six-year deal and while the Phillies probably prefer a four-year term, Gelb suggests they might be willing to go to five years. The Phillies are also fond of Michael Bourn and have confidence that he could handle playing in Philadelphia, Gelb writes. Other potential targets include free agent Angel Pagan and trade candidates such as Dexter Fowler and Denard Span.

The Braves also have strong interest in Upton — he appears to be their top target. The Nationals have at least some interest in Upton, who ranks fifth on MLBTR’s list of the offseason’s top 50 free agents. As I explained earlier this month, the Phillies also have needs at third base and in the bullpen this winter.