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Indians, Nationals lead hunt for Rays outfielder B.J. Upton

Jul 23, 2011, 8:52 PM EDT

upton wide rays Getty Images

The Rays promoted outfield prospect Desmond Jennings from Triple-A Durham late Friday night and are expected to give him regular starts in the outfield through the end of the 2011 season.

There was speculation when news of Jennings’ callup first surfaced that a trade was already in the works involving B.J. Upton.

Upton remained in a Rays uniform Saturday, but that could change at some point next week.

Ken Rosenthal said on the FOX Saturday Baseball broadcast that the 26-year-old will almost certainly be traded at this year’s July 31 deadline and has already drawn interest from the Indians, who are looking to maintain their lead in the American League Central. The Nationals have also expressed interest in Upton as a longer-term project.

Upton has hit just .232/.312/.400 in 389 plate appearances this season, but he still has great speed and good power potential. Interested teams will hope that he peaks after being given a change of scenery.

  1. aclassyguyfromaclassytown - Jul 23, 2011 at 8:55 PM

    This coming out of the blue makes me think NinJr might be………….AH! Smoke bomb!

  2. flpunx - Jul 23, 2011 at 8:58 PM

    Here’s a fantastic trade that wouldn’t ever happen: Upton for Asdrubal Cabrera! Make it happen!!

  3. proudlycanadian - Jul 23, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    The legend of Desmond Jennings is born. He hit a triple to lead off the game. He scored the first run. In his next at bat he hit a run scoring double. He was intentionally walked in his third appearance and promptly stole second. The next time up he was walked on 4 pitches and scored on a Damon double. Jennings is much more exciting than Upton. He seems to be a young Carl Crawford.

    • hittfamily - Jul 23, 2011 at 9:45 PM

      I missed the first part of the game. Why would they intentionally walk a guy making his season debut and is the fastest guy on the field?

      • proudlycanadian - Jul 23, 2011 at 10:02 PM

        I suspect that they were afraid that he would drive in the runner on third. They hoped (correctly) that they would get Daman for the third out. In the top of the 9th Jennings struck out on a full count, thus reducing his BA to .667

  4. spudchukar - Jul 23, 2011 at 9:19 PM

    The Nats search for a centerfielder could finally be realized, however Upton makes them extremely right-handed.

  5. tashkalucy - Jul 23, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    Allowing the Indians front office of Shapiro / Antonelli to trade with Friedman / Hunsicker should be declared a mercy situation by the commissioner and the Indians should be awarded a few extra players and draft choices.

    Kind of like a handicap in golf.

    • Lukehart80 - Jul 23, 2011 at 10:59 PM

      Tell that to the Dodgers’ fans who watched the Indians take Carlos Santana for Casey Blake.

      • ptho16 - Jul 24, 2011 at 7:41 AM

        and the Mariners fans who watched the Indians take Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin Soo Choo for Ben Broussard and Eduardo Perez

  6. hittfamily - Jul 23, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    Jennings is 2 for 2 with a double, triple, 2 BBs, 2 runs, RBI, 1 SB through 6 innings. He led AAA in runs. Why is he just now making his debut?!!!

  7. tashkalucy - Jul 23, 2011 at 10:42 PM

    26 years-old, falling apart at an earlier age then Grady Sizemore…..

    2007 – .300
    2008 – .273
    2009 – .241
    2010 – .237
    2011 – .229

    I can see why the Indians and Nats are lining up or this guy.

    • hittfamily - Jul 23, 2011 at 11:08 PM

      because batting average says everything you need to know about a guy. Albert Pujols will be lucky if anyone wants him next year.

      Thumbs down.

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 23, 2011 at 11:18 PM

        batting average says a lot, especially since you want a guy with Upton’s speed on base as much as possible. however, he seems poised to equal his past performance in most other categories so I definitely have to agree with you when you say BA isn’t everything

      • jtk1985 - Jul 24, 2011 at 12:21 AM

        Derp, Wouldnt you rather look at OBP? which is .312 (not great but not horrible.) or how about OPS which at .706 again isnt amazing but not terrible.

        Compare that to the players the Indians currently have playing RF/CF

        Kearns: .320 OBP .640 OPS
        Buck: .282 OBP .646 OPS
        Carrerra: .333 OBP .600OPS

        Upton is an upgrade over these 3, and once Choo is back we will have a solid OF of Choo, Upton, Brantley with Sizemore potentially off the bench.

      • JBerardi - Jul 24, 2011 at 10:08 AM

        Batting average isn’t a bad stat because it’s meaningless, it’s a bad stat because it’s unreliable. That is, there’s a high margin of error even in a full-season sample, something like .025 or .030. IE, a “true talent” .270 hitter might hit .300 or .240 over the course of a full season based on nothing more than the vagaries of balls in play.

        Here’s the thing with Upton, though: this isn’t a fluke thing. It’s not a one-season thing. He’s been about a .240 for three years running now, and that’s actually long enough to say with confidence that this is who he is. His strikeout rates also suggest a low-average hitter. Or, you know, just watch the guy. He’s plainly not good at putting the ball in play. Meanwhile, it’s really hard to post a good OBP when you’re hitting .240.

        None of this is to say that Upton isn’t a worthy trade target. He’s a well above average center fielder, and he can put a serious charge in the ball when he connects. He can make a team better right now. But it’s absolutely fair to point out that his batting average is a real problem. It’s the thing that holds him back from being a star, and it’s something that could quickly put his career in jeopardy if it gets even a little worse.

  8. pisano - Jul 23, 2011 at 11:49 PM

    This guy will be the second coming of Carl Crawford. I only hope Boston goes after him when he becomes a free agent.

  9. Ick McWang - Jul 24, 2011 at 1:06 AM

    Since the Rays control his rights, why not keep him through next year and get a type B (or hopefully type A if he plays lights out) draft pick in the 2013 draft? Certainly follows their M.O. more than trading a guy for scraps and leftovers

    • JBerardi - Jul 24, 2011 at 10:20 AM

      The CBA is up after this year and the rules for comp picks may be screwed around with in the new one, so the Rays can’t really be sure of what they’ll get if they decide to go that route. And in general, why should they wait for a draft pick they may ultimately not even want, need, or even receive if they can just trade him for a prospect they like right now?

    • hittfamily - Jul 24, 2011 at 5:01 PM

      4 of their 5 top prospects were taken in the 4th round or later. Top draft picks are pricey. That is why they passed on Posey. They simply couldn’t afford him (regrettably). Prospects are cheaper, and a more sure thing. At least that’s my take.

  10. kingjoe1 - Jul 24, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    BJ is a bad outfielder, temperamental in the locker room and inconsistent at the plate. He will not help any team win anything.

    • hittfamily - Jul 24, 2011 at 5:02 PM

      I have never heard of any locker room problems. He’s a good guy. Lazy, but a good guy.

  11. macjacmccoy - Jul 25, 2011 at 7:14 AM

    I think the best case scenario would be a straight up Upton for Rasmus trade . Both teams would be able to get rid of their problem childs and give them the new scenery they both seem to need to maximize their potential. That way they wouldnt have to take lesser offers for their guys just to move them and they both would have piece they could plug in right away.

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