Jan 25, 2010, 11:50 AM EDT
B.J. Upton and the Rays are only $300,000 apart in their arbitration filings, so the two sides should be able to find a compromise before the hearing.
Along those same lines Upton told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that he’d be “all for” working out a long-term contract this offseason.
Upton is arbitration eligible for the first time, so for the Rays there’s no rush to get something done, particularly since his OPS has dropped 100 points in back-to-back years following his 2007 breakout.
On the other hand, Upton’s perceived value and negotiating power have probably never been lower, so if the Rays are confident that the 25-year-old center fielder will turn things about they could get a pretty substantial discount on a long-term pact. Plus, while last season’s .241/.313/.373 mark was ugly Upton did swipe 42 bases and play excellent defense in center field.
Even a return to his fairly modest .266/.352/.410 career line, when combined with the speed and glove, would make him one of the better center fielders in the league. And presumably the Rays should know better than anyone whether or not Upton will bounce back in 2010 and beyond, so it’ll be interesting to see if they take him up on the long-term contract.
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