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Salisbury: Upton Is Main Focus for Phillies

Nov 8, 2012, 11:10 PM EDT

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Major League Baseball’s general managers’ meetings are coming
to a close, but it sounds like business is about to pick up for the Phillies.
According to Jim Salisbury, Ruben Amaro Jr. has been communicating with the
agent for centerfielder B.J. Upton.

Describing Upton as, “the free agent the Phillies have been
most connected to,” Salisbury reports that a number of executives believe the
interest is serious. How serious?

“It really appears he is their main focus,” says Salisbury
in the accompanying video.

The Phillies are in clear need of a centerfielder, and Upton
is widely considered one of the best options on the market. The 28-year-old
right-hander set a career high for Tampa Bay in 2012 with 28 homers, and finished
with his second-highest RBI output at 78. He was also among the American league
leaders with 31 steals.

On the downside, his .246 batting average and .298 on-base
percentage were both disappointing. In fact, those numbers have not been the
same since Upton burst on to the scene with the Rays in ’07-’08, when he was a
.285/.385 over two seasons. Furthermore, he is a perennial top five in
strikeouts.

However, Salisbury notes Upton would be reunited with new
Phillies hitting coach Steve Henderson in Philadelphia. Henderson was Upton’s
hitting coach in ‘07.

The early estimates on what it would take to get Upton under
contract are five to seven years at between $13 and $16 million per. Tampa tendered
a qualifying offer to Upton, so it will also cost the Phillies their
first-round pick. That seems like an awfully steep price to pay at first
glance.

There is no question Upton would fill a hole in the Phils’ lineup, as both a right-handed bat with some pop, and a centerfielder with
range, but do you think he is the best option available?

>> Phillies communicating with Upton’s agent [CSN]