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The Phillies are seen as a favorites for B.J. Upton

Nov 2, 2012, 9:52 AM EDT

B.J. Upton AP

Most Phillies fans around these parts have talked about Ruben Amaro going after Michael Bourn. But like Yoda said — and now Jon Heyman reports — there is another:

The Braves will make a qualifying offer Friday to Michael Bourn, and the Rays will make one to B.J. Upton, as well. But the top two free-agent center fielders on the market will turn those offers down and are more likely to sign long free-agent deals elsewhere … Baseball officials still see the Nationals as the favorites for Bourn, while the Phillies are seen as an early favorite for Upton.

Boras bluster and perception aside, I’m not sure that Upton wouldn’t be the better signing. he’s younger than Bourn even though it seems like he’s been around forever. And one gets the sense — and maybe it’s just wishful thinking, I’ll admit — that Upton has some crazy monster season in him at some point. A blip season, perhaps, that one day later we call a fluke, but one like that all the same.

Moreover, Bourn would probably be more expensive than Upton, and that could be a consideration. It’s hard to say what the budget constraints are for the Phillies. Yes, they have a big payroll already, but they also have a new TV deal coming in a couple of years that will likely give them a lot more dough.

  1. kiwicricket - Nov 2, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Is the title some sort of lewd thing I don’t know about? Or is it missing a ‘for’ ?

  2. jrillah10 - Nov 2, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    So long BJ. A big part of me was hoping you would return to Tampa. Good luck and cash in on what you deserve.

    • illadelphiasphinest - Nov 2, 2012 at 3:55 PM

      This is the wrong Upton brother. We want Justin!!!!
      Altough I wouldn’t put it past RAJ to sign BJ and trade for Justin. After all this is the city of brotherly love. The Flyers united the Schenn brothers why not unite the Upton’s? Would be pretty cool to see, n who knows maybe they push eachother to be better players n they both finally unlock that world of potential they both have.

  3. js20011041 - Nov 2, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    If the Phillies are going all out to win a championship, why even worry about the age of Bourn or Upton? Look at the ages of the core of this roster. Lee: 33, Halladay: 35, Hamels: 28, Howard: 32, Utley: 33, Rollins: 33, Ruiz: 33. Once these guys are gone or no longer effective, the window is closed. Personally, I think they should rebuild but if they’re going to go after a championship, go after it. Don’t worry about the future. Bourn is the better player. Per fangraphs, Bourn rated plus 22 runs defensively while Upton rated negative 2 runs defensively. Upton also had a sub .300 OBP compared to Bourn’s .348.

  4. raysfan1 - Nov 2, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    Whoever signs Upton should not be expecting monster seasons offensively. It’s now been 4 years since his shoulder injury. In that time his HRs have gone up but his BA and OBP have been pretty consistent. He’ll go on HR tears at times like at the end of this season, but overall he is what he is. What he is happens to be a rangy outfielder who will put up a .240/.300-.325/.400-.450 line.

  5. psuravens19 - Nov 2, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    Phillies are the favorite until that “Mystery Team” comes along… oh who will it be this year, it’s all just so exciting.

    • proudlycanadian - Nov 2, 2012 at 10:29 AM

      My totally unreliable sources say that The Yankees are the “Mystery Team.

      • kiwicricket - Nov 2, 2012 at 10:42 AM

        My ‘person with knowledge of the situation’ disagrees with your ‘reliable sources’ with regards to him being fancied by the Yankees and not the Phillies.

      • proudlycanadian - Nov 2, 2012 at 10:58 AM

        My unnamed source, still likes The Yankees.

      • kiwicricket - Nov 2, 2012 at 12:24 PM

        A rival executive, who wishes to remain nameless, has passed on information that they see the Cubs spending a bit of coin on a bat this winter.

      • natstowngreg - Nov 2, 2012 at 4:40 PM

        The Yankees can never be the “Mystery Team.”

  6. ame123 - Nov 2, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    Hate giving up a pick. I’d rather Ruben try to fill the holes with guys that arent offered qualifying offers like Pagan. But if he does have to get a big name, I’d rather it be Upton than Bourn. Bourn is the next Chone Figgins.

  7. jehzsa - Nov 2, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    BJ Upton is in the best shape of his life. Has been for the last…what…four and a half years? OK…three and a half. No…wait…two and a half! OK…OK…last month he was doing sprints.

    Go Rays!

  8. jagsfan11 - Nov 2, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    I really want Upton back. Tampa will miss you BJ.

  9. randygnyc - Nov 2, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    I’m pretty sure the Yankees pass on upton. Besides his history of underachieving, he’s earned a pretty bad reputation for his poor attitude. Yankees don’t need it. Pursue ichiro for 2013. Gardner, Granderson and ichiro with defense and speed will make up for the loss of swisher’s power.

    • buddaley - Nov 2, 2012 at 4:04 PM

      He has only “earned” a pretty bad reputation among the gullible who read or listen to misinformed and irresponsible radio talk shows and fanposts. Real GMs know that Upton is a very intense dedicated player, an exceptionally hard worker and very popular in the clubhouse.

      There were some incidents-dramatically exaggerated-early in his career to which, even then he responded maturely and responsibly. And in at least one case, the stories about his response were perversely the reverse of what he really said. In recent years, there have been no recurrences, and even in his public utterances one can tell he has grown into a leader and admired figure on the team.

  10. scatterbrian - Nov 2, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    “Baseball officials still see the Nationals as the favorites for Bourn…”

    Don’t the Nationals already have a pretty good CF? Moving either to LF would kill their values.

    • ame123 - Nov 2, 2012 at 12:03 PM

      Yeah, Bryce Harper in LF is like totally a replacement player.

      • scatterbrian - Nov 2, 2012 at 12:36 PM

        You’re missing the point. In terms of positional value, Harper in CF is much more valuable than Harper in LF.

      • ame123 - Nov 2, 2012 at 1:26 PM

        Harper isnt a center fielder. He will only get slower as his body matures.

      • scatterbrian - Nov 2, 2012 at 5:21 PM

        You’re kidding, right? Dude’s 20 years old. His ability to play a great CF will last longer than a Bourn contract.

    • natstowngreg - Nov 2, 2012 at 5:01 PM

      I suspect “baseball officials” see the Nats as front-runner because he would fill two slots (defensive CF, leadoff hitter). They may or may not have a clue whether Mike Rizzo will make a big push to sign Bourn (or Upton). Though Rizzo should have the payroll space to give someone like Bourn a lot of money.

      For a kid with very little experience at the position, Young Mr. Harper did a nice job in CF. However, in the long term, he’s a corner OF. Jayson Werth did an excellent job as leadoff hitter last season, but his power should return somewhat next season (with more healing of his wrist), and they might want to move him back down in the lineup.

  11. ryanrockzzz - Nov 2, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Glad to see the Phillies are interested in B.J. Although he’s not a great player, I feel he is the best option in CF available in free agency. He’s relatively young, has playoff and World Series experience, and seems to play well in September. Whoever gets Bourn is going to get a player who will be effective for the first few years of his monster deal, but probably will be more of a liability for the length of the contract.

    Now…if the Phils can only pry away that other Upton to play RF, and possibly get that hot Upton to be the ballgirl, I think we might have something here…

    • ame123 - Nov 2, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      hot Upton and B.J. The mind just can’t help by wander.

  12. Jeremy Fox - Nov 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    Sabrmetric Phillies bloggers have been rooting for the Phillies to go after Upton, arguing that he’s almost as good as Bourn, younger, and likely to come a lot cheaper. I’m not sure about the “a lot cheaper” part, at least not since it’s Amaro doing the bidding. If history is any guide, Amaro might decide to blow Upton away with a huge offer before the market has a chance to firm up.

  13. xmatt0926x - Nov 2, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Blahh…….. None of the centerfield free agents excites me. I still think bringing back Victorino for a one year contract to reestablish his value would be the best bet. Bourne and Upton are going to get money that they just don’t deserve and for way too many years. Don’t get me wrong. I understand that any big name free agent will always get too many years and be a liability for the last couple years of a contract, but at least you know you will usually get some great seasons in the beginning. I just don’t get why people love Upton. I don’t see him as an underachiever at all. I think he is exactly what he has shown for several seasons now. It’s not like he’s had 2 or 3 great years and has fallen off for some unknown reason. I like Bourn but his talent lies in his speed and he will be into his 30’s with this next contract. Those legs are going to slow down in the next few years. Bring Vic back for a year and trade some of the catching and pitching prospects for the OTHER Upton.

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