Source confirms Braves are nearing the completion of a deal with B.J. Upton.@jcrasnick first reported talks were heating up
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) November 28, 2012
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick first reports (and Mark Bowman somewhat confirmed before Jon Heyman double confirms) that the Atlanta Braves and B.J. Upton are close to signing a five-year deal worth between $70-75 million. The free agent center fielder represents a decent coup for the Braves – who tend to cry poor at free agent time, thanks in no small part to their rather terrible TV deal.
Upton receives a five-year contract for $70 milllion to $75 million for #Braves
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 28, 2012
The Braves outfield was one of the best in recent baseball history last year, thanks to some a great walk year performance by Michael Bourn and some friendly UZR/DRS numbers that gave all three outfielders 5 WAR seasons. Replacing Upton with Bourn isn’t exactly an upgrade but it far from a downgrade, as Upton hits for much more power than the departed Bourn, even if he makes more outs and doesn’t run the bases quite as well. Bill James projects a .333 wOBA in 2013 which will do just fine from a good defensive CF.
Just as I wrote less than two weeks ago, B.J. Upton is a good match for the Braves even if it isn’t the best match optically. Upton’s skills may not endear him to BARVES fans but he will help them win ball games. The Braves splashing some cash is a welcome change, I just worry about the inevitable backlash. That is a significant pay day and fans love latching onto a dollar amount and generating expectations based on salary.
The Braves aren’t worried, or, more accurately, don’t care about any potential backlash. They know what they get with B.J. Upton, even if he is a little enigmatic, and like what he offers. His power and defense and ability to kill lefties make him valuable indeed. The term seems steep but the deal is far from a bad one – mostly because it adds up in a the “helping the Braves win baseball games” sense.