B.J. Upton Rumors
The Braves are considering multiple center fielders in free agency and on the trade market as they look for a replacement for free agent Michael Bourn. B.J. Upton remains the Braves' top choice at the position, Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported yesterday. Braves GM Frank Wren acknowledged his interest in Upton while stressing the importance of pursuing multiple players at once.
“We’re checking,” Wren said. “We’re involved on just about everything, every center fielder that we like.”
Bourn, Josh Hamilton and Angel Pagan are alternatives for the Braves in case their pursuit of Upton doesn't end in a deal. Though signing Hamilton seems "highly unlikely" to Wren, he said it's too early to rule anything out.
Upton, who met with the Braves and Phillies last week, could take more recruiting trips, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reported yesterday (on Twitter). The Phillies could be the favorites for now, according to Knobler. The Nationals also appear to have some interest in the 28-year-old, who ranked fifth on MLBTR’s list of the offseason’s top 50 free agents.
Today is the 63rd anniversary of Jackie Robinson becoming the first African-American player to win the MVP Award. This would be the only such honor during Robinson's Hall of Fame career. Here's the latest news from the Senior Circuit:
- Negotiations between the Nationals and Adam LaRoche are going slowly, a source tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson. The source also says LaRoche's top priority is to return to the Nationals, but the free agent first baseman is thinking about his two children, which is why he wants a three-year deal and has talked with several teams.
- A five-year, $75MM contract might be accurate for B.J. Upton but expect Michael Bourn to seek more, tweets Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Despite the declining influence of home runs to change a game, as typified by the Giants winning the World Series after slugging the fewest home runs in baseball, the Phillies still need a power surge in 2013, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Bob Brookover.
- Centerfield is one position where the Phillies could seek to boost their power output. ESPN's Buster Olney breaks down their various centerfield options in his latest Insiders-only blog.
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer sees the Reds' 2013 payroll being $92MM, but a team insider tells him the actual number could start with an eight. This would make it difficult, in Fay's opinion, to do anything in free agency except sign a closer or re-sign Ryan Ludwick.
- Within the same piece, GM Walt Jocketty says he will wait until after Thanksgiving to speak with Scott Rolen, who is contemplating retirement.
- The Cardinals' needs are simple for 2013, writes Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The team needs to reinforce a thin bench by adding some right-handed power and find a fourth outfielder who can generate some offense. Miklasz adds the health of shortstop Rafael Furcal is also a significant question.
- Blessed with the deepest of pockets, the Dodgers' desire to pursue an elite starting pitcher reveals myriad ways the team can approach the process, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. Common sense, however, may still prevail at Chavez Ravine as Dodgers controlling partner Mark Walter once eloquently stated, "Pitchers break."
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.
In today's Insider-only blog post, ESPN's Buster Olney wrote about several key market forces in play this offseason, including clubs clinging to their prospects perhaps a little too tightly. "They're still prospects, meaning that anything can happen. You still don't know whether they can play in the big leagues," said one GM. Here's the rest from Olney...
- High asking prices have teams scrambling for bargains early this offseason. One-year deals for Bartolo Colon and Scott Baker are the types of signings we usually don't see until January, but this winter the big name players could be the last to sign.
- The Blue Jays have driven the market so far, but other clubs starved for success figure to be big players as well. Olney listed the Mariners and Indians as two candidates.
- Olney is surprised Melky Cabrera took a two-year contract from the Blue Jays only because a one-year deal would have allowed him to re-establish his value and seek a bigger payday next winter.
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti is working under orders to make the team better regardless of cost. "Cost is no object for them," said a GM. "They are playing a different game than the rest of us right now."
- Olney says it would be a shock if the Marlins don't trade Giancarlo Stanton at some point in the next 20 months. He's not happy with the team and is unlikely to sign a long-term contract.
- The Nationals have made contact with B.J. Upton, but he is an imperfect fit for their already right-handed heavy lineup.
If you're a team looking for a center fielder this offseason, you're in luck. Two of the game's best center fielders are on the free agent market, as Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton rank third and fifth on Tim Dierkes' Top 50 Free Agents List, respectively. Both players offer speed and play a premium position, but the similarities stop there.
Bourn, a 29-year-old left-handed hitter, is a true leadoff hitter who posted a .274/.348/.391 batting line in 624 plate appearances for the Braves this season. He also stole 42 bases (fifth time over 40 in the last six years) and hit a career-high nine homers. According to UZR, Bourn has been baseball's best defensive outfielder over the last three seasons (+35.3).
Upton, a 28-year-old right-handed hitter, is more of a middle of the order bat who put up a .246/.298/.454 line in 633 plate appearances for the Rays this year. He stole 31 bases (fifth straight year of 30+) and hit a career-high 28 homers. His walk rate, however, dipped to a career-low 7.1% (10.6% career). UZR has rated him as an average defender in center over the last three seasons (+0.4).
We've already had one collection of NL East Notes today, but there's no shortage of news coming out of the division. Here's the latest...
- Giancarlo Stanton is still upset about the Marlins' sudden rebuild, telling Peter Gammons of MLB.com that "former Marlins come back and they warn us" about the club's history of firesales and that it is a constant source of discussion amongst current players. "This is the 'winning philosophy?' Then to say it's not about money? What is the motivation? There comes a breaking point. I know how I feel. I can't imagine how the city and the fans feel," Stanton said.
- The Marlins and Blue Jays have officially filed the paperwork about their big 12-player trade with the league, reports Rogers Sportsnet's Shi Davidi (via Twitter). Monday is the most likely date for the trade to be finalized, though it could happen over the weekend.
- The Nationals have been in contact with free agent outfielder B.J. Upton, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, and are "expected to have increased communication" as the offseason progresses. Upton visited the Braves and Phillies earlier this week.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson said his team will need "a little more clarity" on the contract situations of David Wright and R.A. Dickey by the time the Winter Meetings roll around, reports Newsday's Marc Carig. "At some point we need resolution on these discussions to be able to move on. But that time is not now," Alderson said, aiming at the 10 days between Thanksgiving and the start of the Winter Meetings on December 3 as a prime negotiating period.
- Edward Salcedo received a $1.6MM bonus from the Braves as an 18-year-old in 2010, though the 21-year-old hasn't yet lived up to his potential in the minors, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Marlins made headlines this week, sending Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle to Toronto in a blockbuster trade that clears tens of millions in future payroll obligations for Miami. Here’s the latest from the NL East...
- The Phillies met with free agent outfielder B.J. Upton earlier this week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter link). Upton’s right-handed bat would look good in Philadelphia’s lineup, but he’s also a top target of one of the Phillies’ main rivals. The Braves met with Upton in Atlanta yesterday.
- Mets ownership should sell the team if they can't figure out a way to re-sign R.A. Dickey, ESPN.com's Buster Olney writes. The Mets play in the country's biggest market and should be able to take risks on top players such as Dickey, Olney argues. As readers of MLBTR's chats already know, I agree with Olney: the Mets should be able to spend to retain star players like Dickey and David Wright.
- Commissioner Bud Selig told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post he's confident in the direction the Mets are taking. "I know they’re very comfortable where they are, and they’re very optimistic,” Selig said. However, there's no guarantee Jeffrey Loria of the Marlins will get as much backing from the commissioner as the Mets have obtained.
This was a bit before MLB Trade Rumors' time, but it was on this day in 1886 that the first trade in Major League history took place. The Cincinnati Red Stockings acquired base-stealing outfielder Hugh Nicol and Jamie Moyer from the St. Louis Browns in exchange for rookie catcher Jack Boyle and $400. Here's some modern-day hot stove action from around the majors...
- Free agent outfielder B.J. Upton visited Turner Field today, meeting with Braves general manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman. The Braves see Upton as their top free agent target this winter, as Upton will come at a lower price than Michael Bourn.
- While the Red Sox have checked in with Josh Hamilton's agent, reports of Boston's interest in Hamilton are "overblown," a source tells WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
- Ian Kinsler is willing to change positions if the Rangers ask, the second baseman tells Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Where I play on the field is not my decision. I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team win regardless of where I am on the field or where I’m hitting in the batting order," Kinsler said. A move from second could open room for both Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus in the infield, while Kinsler could replace Hamilton in left or play first base.
- Both the Angels and the Tigers benefited from Torii Hunter signing with Detroit, opines MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian breaks down Shin-Soo Choo's trade value both in terms of what the Indians could get in return and how Choo compares to free agents currently on the market.
- The Indians' thin farm system is due to nearly a decade of poor drafts, writes Baseball America's Ben Badler.
- It seems like the White Sox will look externally to fill their hole at third base, as GM Rick Hahn told reporters (including MLB.com's Scott Merkin) that "we are exploring a lot of options that we rank ahead of moving [Dayan] Viciedo in from the outfield," though he didn't completely rule it out.
- With five notable Marlins on their way to Toronto, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at how players face large tax increases when they're dealt away from Florida, including a past instance of a player (Carlos Delgado) having tax protection written into his contract in lieu of a no-trade clause from the Marlins.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports examines how the Marlins/Blue Jays trade and Hunter's signing will impact other teams and players around baseball.
B.J. Upton is the Braves' top free agent target, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman (on Twitter). The club had visions of signing both Upton and Torii Hunter this offseason, but the latter agreed to a two-year deal with the Tigers today.
Upton, 28, hit .246/.298/.454 with a career-high 28 homers in 633 plate appearances last season. He also stole 31 bases, his fifth straight season over 30. Upton would replace at least some of the speed and center field defense lost by departing free agent Michael Bourn, plus his right-handed bat would help balance Atlanta's lefty heavy level.
The Braves figure to lose Bourn this winter and Chipper Jones has retired, but Martin Prado's versatility would allow the club to pursue two outfielders rather than an outfielder and a third baseman. MLBTR's Tim Dierked ranked Upton as the fifth best free agent this offseason in his Top 50 Free Agents List, predicting he would sign with the Phillies.
The 4pm CST deadline for players to accept qualifying offers has come and gone and none of the eight players in play opted to return to their respective clubs for a $13.3MM salary in 2013. That means that Nick Swisher, Hiroki Kuroda, Rafael Soriano, B.J. Upton, Adam LaRoche, Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton, and Kyle Lohse will net their teams a compensatory pick if they sign elsewhere. Here's the latest from around baseball..
- The Giants are confident that they will be re-signing Jeremy Affeldt and the club believes that they will work out a three-year deal, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. GM Brian Sabean indicated yesterday that he is optimistic about being about to keep Affeldt, Angel Pagan, and Marco Scutaro.
- Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter) that he has not approached Corey Hart's agent about an extension and doesn't have immediate plans to do so. A report earlier today suggested that the Brewers and Hart were discussing a deal to keep him beyond 2013. The first baseman/right fielder is set to earn $10MM next season.
- The Tigers aren't interested in Soriano and plan to stay in-house to find their closer, tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Right-hander Bruce Rondon, 21, will get a chance at the job.
B.J. Upton has officially declined the Rays' qualifying offer, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). The centerfielder was widely expected to turn down the one-year, $13.3MM offer, putting the Rays in position to pick up a compensatory draft pick.
Now that Upton is officially off the books, the Rays may now use the new found freedom to pursue B.J.'s younger brother, Justin Upton. Tampa Bay is obviously working with a pitching surplus and could use James Shields, David Price, or Jeremy Hellickson to get such a deal done.