Upton drafted second overall in the 2002 may be headed to the National League East
The market for free-agent outfielder B.J. Upton has suddenly become the talk of this year’s hot stove. The Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals reportedly are all interested in signing the 28-year-old outfielder.
The Braves and Phillies have met with Upton, as first reported by MLB.com and FoxSports.com and the Nationals hope to meet with him face-to-face as well.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel visited with Upton earlier this week, as is his custom, to gauge not only the interest of Upton, but to determine how he would fit in the Phillies clubhouse and deal with the pressure cooker of playing in Philadelphia.
Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies’ longtime shortstop, was part of the team’s contingent that met with Upton, sources said. If Upton decides to sign elsewhere, the Phillies could turn to Angel Pagan, Michael Bourn or Josh Hamilton.
Braves GM Frank Wren and manager Freddi Gonzalez met with Upton Thursday in Atlanta. Upton, a 28-year-old right-handed hitter, put up a .246/.298/.454 line in 633 plate appearances for the Tampa Bay Rays this year.
He stole 31 bases (fifth straight year of 30+) and hit a career-high 28 homers. Upton is just 28 years old and teams may be more willing to sign a 28-year-old to a five-year contract that someone who is older, for example Bourne. Readers at MLBTR.com seem to favor Bourne
Upton and Bourn will both likely get five-year deals worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $75 million. Angel Pagan and Shane Victorino are two more viable center-field options for team to consider.
The Nationals have made it clear that re-signing Adam LaRoche is his top priority, however Washington GM Mike Rizzo is also looking for center fielder. Upton who grew up in Virginia would be close to home, and that was seen as an advantage early on.
The National have had interest in Upton in the past, but for now the Nats are focused on LaRoche.
The Texas Rangers may also be interested in Upton.