The perception among teams is that the Rays are ready to move center fielder B.J. Upton now, writes ESPN's Buster Olney. Olney believes the Rays "will listen to just about every trade proposal thrown their way" in general. He's of the opinion that the team's front office faces limited backlash, since attendance is already poor.
Upton, 26, is hitting .237/.319/.411 on the season and is due another raise on this year's $4.825MM salary in 2012 before hitting free agency. He slugged .508 as a 22-year-old in 2007, but .401 in 534 games since. Plus defense allows Upton to remain a valuable player, but there is a sense that he hasn't lived up to his potential. Olney imagines the Nationals and Phillies might be potential fits.
We wrote about James Shields' potential availability earlier today. Olney says Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman would also make strong trade chips. The Rays are currently 5.5 games back in the wild card, though their schedule eases up after Thursday's game with the Yankees.