Will the Washington Nationals pursue any of the other available outfielders this winter now that B.J. Upton has signed with the Atlanta Braves.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter David O'Brien wrote 10 days before the Atlanta Braves signed him to a 5-year/$75.25M dollar deal this afternoon that 28-year-old free agent outfielder B.J. Upton was likely to get a contract for somewhere in the area of five years and $75M dollars from whichever team ended up signing the former Tampa Bay Rays' 1st Round pick this winter. Michael Bourn, however, the Journal-Constitution's Mr. O'Brien wrote on Twitter (@ajcbraves) that day, "... and agent [Scott] Boras are asking for more $ than that."
Bourn, the now-even-more-likely-to-be-a-former Braves' outfielder who'll be replaced in center in Turner Field by Upton is said to want a 5-6-year deal worth around $80-$100M dollars this winter coming off a .274/.348/.391, 26 double, 10 triple, nine home run, 42 stolen base, +6.4 fWAR 2012 season in Atlanta.
Upton finished his eighth major league season at +3.3 fWAR with a .246/.298/.454 line, 29 doubles, 28 HRs and 31 SBs in 146 games and 633 PAs, leaving him with a .255/.336/.422 career line 966 games into his MLB career. Bourn, who will turn 30 next month, entered free agency with a .272/.339/.365 line over seven major league seasons played in Philadelphia, Houston and Atlanta.
The Phillies were rumored to be high on Upton and are rumored to be interested in signing Bourn, (w/ one writer saying they're going to shock the world and get Josh Hamilton) as are the Washington Nationals, though, as the Nats have stated repeatedly and Yahoo!Sports.com's Jeff Passan wrote last week, "... Bryce Harper's evolution into a bona fide center fielder might save the Nationals from making an unnecessary $80 million investment," this winter. Harper's evolution and the presence of some potential future center fielders in the organization as the Nats have previously explained.
Denver Post writer Troy E. Renck too wrote last week about Washington and Philadelphia being among the teams that are in the market for a center fielder this winter, speculating that, "If Braves get Upton [it] should help clarify/intensify market for [Rockies' OF Dexter] Fowler. Phils, Nats might emerge but Rox asking price will be very high."
The 26-year-old Fowler, who won't become a free agent until 2016, had a .300/.389/.474 line with 18 doubles, 11 triples, 13 HRs and 12 stolen bases in a +2.9 fWAR season in 2012 which left the center fielder with a .271/.364/.427 line over four seasons-plus in the majors with the Rockies.
According to Yahoo!Sports.com's Mr. Passan, "Colorado is using his emergence to ask for a huge return," with one executive the reporter spoke to describing the asking price as "Absurd."
Davey Johnson told MLB Network Radio hosts Jim Bowden and Casey Stern recently that he liked what he had and didn't see the need to spend big on an outfielder. "Bryce Harper is going to be my center fielder," Johnson said, "and probably [Michael] Morse in left and [Jayson] Werth in right."
That's if the Nationals sign Adam LaRoche, of course. If not, Morse might move to first and the Nats could explore the market or go with Tyler Moore, Roger Bernadina or another option in left with Harper and Werth in center and right or sign one of the center fielders out there and move Harper to a corner spot where the Nationals think he'll eventually end up anyway.
$80M over five years for a 30-year-old outfielder? A high price in prospects for an outfielder at peak value coming off his best season in the majors? Do either Bourn or Fowler make sense for the Nats?