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Rays, B.J. Upton avoid arbitration with one-year deal

Jan 17, 2011, 6:24 PM EDT

BJ Upton ap

The Rays and B.J. Upton avoided arbitration today by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $4.825 million, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.

The Tampa Tribune reports that he could make an additional $25,000 based on plate appearances.

The 26-year-old Upton earned $3 million in 2010 after losing an arbitration hearing in his first year of eligibility. Hearings are uncomfortable for both sides, so it’s clear they didn’t want to have to go through that process again.

Upton batted .237/.322/.424 with 18 home runs, 62 RBI, a .745 OPS and 42 stolen bases in 51 attempts last season. He hit for more power, but his contact rate suffered in the process. His production against right-handed pitching also collapsed considerably, doing little to shed his reputation as a highly talented, yet enigmatic player.

  1. chedberg - Jan 17, 2011 at 8:28 PM

    A 1.8 million RAISE for the year he had!!! Come on Rays. At least trade him, PLEASE!!!!!

  2. Ick McWang - Jan 17, 2011 at 11:07 PM

    upton is now officially at the salary point where i would think he gets traded by the deadline if the Rays are out of it. he has a “ton of potential” but he has been consistently mediocre at the plate and top fligt in the field for a few years now, so I would think what you see is what you get at this point

  3. brownsdog - Jan 18, 2011 at 4:38 AM

    BJ Upton has so much talent, a 5-tool guy, yet continues to play like a journeyman outfielder. His emotional state of the moment determines whenther he’ll focus and hustle or pout and dog it. What a complete waste of a player who has the ability to enter the HOF on the first ballot and be remembered as one of the best to ever put on a mitt. Here’s a great example of the difference in a player who loves the game and respects the history, and a player who signed a contract big enough to live and act like a spoiled prima donna. Too bad he’s such a punk; he’s young enough to turn it around – but probably doesn’t have the fortitude and make-up to fulfill his God-given talents. He may be the answer to a trivia answer one day – but that’s about all he’ll be remembered for.

  4. buddaley - Jan 18, 2011 at 7:05 AM

    The Rays manager, front office and players know the following about Upton:

    1. He is one of the hardest workers on the team, entirely dedicated to improving his performance.

    2. He has always accepted full responsibility for his mistakes and has never complained about
    being penalized for them.

    3. Such mistakes have been rare, if overly hyped, and do not define his character at all.

    4. He is very popular in the clubhouse and very cooperative, willing to accept any role the
    manager asks him to play.

    It is only some fans, probably egged on by talk radio, who think their memories are accurate and then exaggerate the errors in their memories, who accuse him of laziness, indifference and lack of respect for the game.

    Upton has not fulfilled expectations, although he has also generally been better than ill-informed opinion has it. He is worth more than his new contract gives him, probably based on market pricing about double.

    • spindervish - Jan 18, 2011 at 11:07 AM

      1. I distinctly recall at least one instance of him complaining publicly about not being treated like a regular or something…something about not knowing whether he was going to be in the lineup from day to day. So your claim that he “has never complained” rings a bit hollow.

      2. “…better than ill-informed opinion has it.” – I don’t know, he’s been a pretty terrible hitter two years running. Look at his splits vs. righties.

      3. You think a 745 OPS and 40+ SBs from a very good-but-not-great CF is worth $9.6 million?

      • buddaley - Jan 18, 2011 at 11:35 AM

        I know exactly the incident you are referring to, and it is a perfect example of misinterpretation, in fact of interpreting what he said in exactly the opposite way from what he meant.

        Maddon moved him from the top to the bottom of the lineup. Upton said it was like a kick in the head; that was the phrase many fans focused on without considering what his point was.

        As a matter of fact, if you read the entire quotation and interview, you see that he takes full responsibility for the change and vows to work to EARN back his spot. He said that he was upset with himself for making it necessary for Maddon to move him.

        Indeed, later that season, Maddon benched him for a game because he thought Upton was putting too much pressure on himself, was trying too hard. Of course, the non-fact has now become a fact to many and another example to demonstrate their preconceived and entirely erroneous views as your recollection indicates.

        As for his performance, he has not been a terrible hitter 2 years running, although he has been disappointing given expectations. He showed some return of power in 2010 and other signs that he is improving. According to fangraphs, in 2010 his wOBA was .337 which is not great but not bad either. His wRC+ was 114 and his WAR was 3.4. This is in spite of the fact of his poor performance vs. righties about which you are correct.

        By market standards, a 3.4 WAR garners wages in excess of $8 million. And incidentally, unlike in 2009, his WAR in 2010 was not primarily due to superior defense.BB-Reference has his 2010 WAR even higher (4.3) with most of it due to his offense also.

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