"I'm really blown away by the love other cities are showing me right now," B.J. Upton wrote on Twitter (@BJUPTON2) today, "Can't wait to see how this pans out. #intrigued."
MLB.com's Mark Bowman reported yesterday that the 28-year-old veteran of eight major league seasons in Tampa Bay visited Atlanta and met with GM Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez. The Braves, according to the reporter, "... appear to regard Upton as the most attractive outfielder available on the free agent market." The MLB.com writer also noted that the Philadelphia Phillies were interested in Upton's services. FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote on Twitter this morning that his sources told him about the outfielder visiting the Braves' NL East rivals.
In a follow-up report on Twitter, the bow-tied FOXSports' reporter added that Jimmy Rollins was part of the contingent that met with the free agent outfielder in Philadelphia. Mr. Rosenthal also wrote tonight that a third team in the Braves and Phillies' division is expressing interest in Upton. "The Washington Nationals are a wild card in the market," the FOXSports' reporter notes, but, "... their pursuit of a center fielder could hinge on whether they re-sign free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche." The Nats have been clear about wanting to get LaRoche signed with both manager Davey Johnson and D.C. GM Mike Rizzo stating clearly recently that getting the first baseman under contract is no.1 on their to-do list this winter.
As the Nats' general manager explained in an MLB Network Radio interview this week, however, they have had what he described as "parallel discussions" as they wait to see where LaRoche decides to sign. According to a report tonight by the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, one of the players the Nationals have talked to this winter is B.J. Upton. Quoting a "person familiar with the situation," the WaPost's Mr. Kilgore writes that while the Nats wait on LaRoche, "... they have had initial dialogue with free agent outfielder B.J. Upton... and are expected to have increased communication with Upton in the near future."
In offering a quick scouting report on Upton (and comparing him to fellow free agent OF Michael Bourn), the Nats' General Manager explained in an MLB Network Radio interview with Jim Bowden and Casey Stern that he saw the outfielder, whose brother was a no.1 overall pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks when Rizzo was the D-Backs' director of scouting, as a player who provides, "... great defense, steals bases," and is a, "... more power-orientated, less on base percentage guy who would have to hit in the middle of the lineup instead of the top of the lineup, [but] a great make-up guy from a great family we have great relationships [with] and I've known for several years."
Upton's hitting the free agent market coming off a .246/.298/.454, 29 double, 28 HR, 31 SB, +3.3 fWAR campaign in which the Rays' '02 1st Round pick hit a career-high in HRs but saw his OBP drop from .331 in 2011 and a career AVG .336.