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B.J. Upton, Thought to Be Phillies Target in Free Agency, Signs with Atlanta

Nov 28, 2012, 6:28 PM EDT

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A big-name centerfielder is officially off the free agent
market. Former Tampa Bay Ray B.J. Upton is headed to the NL East, but he won’t
be wearing red pinstripes. The 28 year old has reportedly agreed to a five-year
contract worth $75 million with the Atlanta Braves. Looks like we’ll have
plenty of opportunities to see exactly what the Phillies are missing.

A few weeks back at the GM meetings, our man Jim Salisbury
reported centerfielder B.J. Upton was the Phillies’ “main focus” in free agency
this winter. If that was in fact the case, it’s not been like Ruben Amaro Jr.
to lose his man in recent years, yet that appears to be exactly what happened
here.

The deal with the Bravos works out to $15 million annually,
which is a steep price to pay for a player whose numbers have been in decline
for awhile. Upton is coming off of his worst season in many respects, batting
.246 with a .298 on-base percentage. However, he did set a personal best with
28 home runs, and is still a tremendous athlete.

I was never fully on board with the idea of Upton as the Phillies’
centerfielder myself. The declining numbers were worrisome, and while they
could use another right-handed bat with some power, he’s a perennial top-10 in
strikeouts as well, which always seems to be an ongoing struggle in their
lineup.

Then again, Upton certainly would have been an upgrade over…
whoever the centerfielder is right now. He certainly doesn’t hurt the Braves.

The good news is there are still several options on the
table. Who knows, maybe the answer happens to be on his way out of Atlanta in
the form of former Phillie Michael Bourn. That’s just an idea though. Where
does the front office go from here?