B.J. Upton Signs With Braves

A major free agent domino has fallen, sportsfans, as former Tampa Bay Rays center fielder B.J. Upton has agreed to terms with the Native American Warriors of Atlanta on a five-year, $75.25 million contract, the richest free-agent deal in franchise history. Upton was my dream choice for the Phillies if they went the free agent route with a center fielder, and while the 28-year-old is hardly a bargain at $15 million a year, there’s great potential for him to be worth that and more.

Upton, as you all probably know now, has great speed and is a good defender, with power that comes and goes. He should easily be an offensive upgrade over Michael Bourn (who we can probably assume is on his way out now), while losing a little bit with the glove and one bases. But that’s only because Bourn is one of the best defenders and baserunners in the game. With Martin Prado, Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons in the fold, Upton should continue to keep the Braves’ team defense on a “sick nasty” level. And given the way Braves fans treated Heyward, an extremely talented player who underachieved due to nothing more than injury, I’m sure that Upton’s reputation for not exhibiting Brett Lawrie-esque levels of insane, self-destructive on-field intensity and showy effort will go over EXTREMELY WELL in Atlanta.

But anyway, while Bourn to Upton is something of a lateral move for Atlanta, most interesting is its effect on the rest of the market. Not only are the Phillies in need of an upgrade over John Mayberry, but the Nationals acknowledge that while Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth are good athletes and very good defensive corner outfielders, neither is the long-term answer in center field.

Not that the market lacks for options. Angel Pagan is still out there as a free agent, as are younger players like Denard Span and Dexter Fowler (potentially) via trade, but then there’s this:

To which I say:

First of all, I don’t think I have to tell you why signing Hamilton is a bad idea, but in case you’ve been asleep, here’s a primer: he’s a very good player, but he’s going to earn a lot of money going forward, and his skills and physical history suggest that the sands of time will erode him in a particularly dramatic way. Phillies fans, of all people, should know better than to want Hamilton after watching Ryan Howard crumble like Lot’s wife escaping from Sodom and Gomorrah. But these are the same folks who lived through the Hunter Pence trade and still think it’s a good idea for the Phillies to mortgage Boardwalk and Park Place to trade for Chase Headley. Like the Lotus-eaters, we trundle through life just kind of sleepily ignorant of all the turmoil that surrounds us.

There’s a possibility that all 30 major league teams will feel this way, realize that Hamilton can’t stay healthy, has terrible plate discipline and most likely will not be able to play center field much longer, and the market will evaporate, leaving him in much the same situation Edwin Jackson and Ryan Madson found themselves in last year. So if January rolls around and Hamilton can be had for, say, three years at $20-ish million per, then maybe we talk. But this:


That’s the kind of out-of-touch, glib disregard for financial prudence that one could only expect from someone who managed to get himself elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. An answer so cravenly, Harrison Bergeron-y populist that it makes clear, as if one wore a sign of neon lights on one’s head, and did a dance, smiling broadly and clicking your castanets, like some sort of sick, dystopian Carmen Miranda-in-Tron, that you pay only cursory attention to the state of the world as it is. A combination of ignorance and delusion that makes me wonder how in the hell this guy only lasted one term, because voters usually eat that kind of thing up.

Anyway, that’s the kind of contract that I’d like Josh Hamilton to get from another team.

As far as the impact of Upton’s signing on the rest of the market, I can’t say, because I don’t have any information. Which doesn’t stop some people from flinging around unsourced rumors like confetti. Because a scout and an agent think Hamilton ends up in Philly? Well, that and 17,000 credits will get you from Tatooine to Alderaan without any Imperial entanglements. Which, if I recall correctly, is the real trick, isn’t it?

A scout and an agent, presumably not Hamilton’s agent…so that’s two people who know a lot about baseball but have zero input in any process that would bring the Phillies and Hamilton together. That might as well be James Bond and the main character from To Kill a Mockingbird for all the good that does. If Bill and I say Josh Hamilton is going to Baltimore, or to Panera Bread for breakfast tomorrow, or to Mallorca for a nice offseason getaway with his wife, what then? We’re two guys who know a lot about baseball and have zero input in Hamilton’s professional future, would you believe us?

The point is not that what Crasnick said isn’t true, or that he’s even necessarily being irresponsible for reporting it. I’m just saying that it’s nothing more than what all of us are doing–speculating. So don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

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14 comments

  1. MIke S

    November 28, 2012 09:00 PM

    Pagan is looking more and more like the safe, logical choice. But I’m wondering if RAJ gets creative and deals Lee. Would the Angels send East a prospect package including Bourjus? Would the Tigers consider acquiring a lefty ace to balance Verlander and part with A. Jackson? Are there more realistic trade opportunities / partners?

  2. LTG

    November 28, 2012 09:27 PM

    Victorino > Pagan

    (see comment section of previous post)

  3. Sherm E.

    November 28, 2012 09:28 PM

    I can’t think of a worse free agent signing than Hamilton for this city. I also cannot believe that RAJ deals Lee without being sure about Halladay’s health. Maybe this is the year RAJ takes the Gillick approach and doesn’t make the big splash signing.

  4. LTG

    November 28, 2012 10:17 PM

    File Under: Making the Papelbon Contract Look Worse

    Apparently, the core talents of pitchers has increased recently such that Papelbon’s skills are not as valuable. In 2010 he had a 3.51 FIP and earned 1.2 fWAR in 67 innings. In 2009 he had a 3.05 FIP and earned 2.0 fWAR in 68 innings. In 2012 he had a 2.89 FIP and earned 1.4 fWAR in 70 innings.

    Papelbon was a better pitcher in 2012 than in 2009 and 2010, but he was equally or less valuable relative to replacement level.

  5. John

    November 28, 2012 10:19 PM

    I love that clip from Gladiator. Anyway, whether you like it or not Micheal, you know RAJ is a big splash kind of guy and he loves to sign people the Phillie’s think will put butts in seats to sell out the CBP all season long. You have to think he is somewhere tonight, working a little harder than he was last night, that’s for sure.

  6. John

    November 28, 2012 10:30 PM

    From Phillies.com:
    “Fans want to know who they’ll be cheering for [to] get excited about their clubs,” said Amaro. “We’re no exception. There are some situations where we’re waiting right now on someone to say ‘yes,’ and other situations where other teams are waiting for us to say ‘yes.’ ”

    Sounds like he has offers on the table for other trades to go on. Big splash?

  7. Philllie697

    November 29, 2012 10:59 AM

    No offense, while 3/$60Mish sounds like a freaking bargain for Hamilton, I would still cringe. If I’m paying $20M a season for some dude, I want it to be a sure thing like Halladay or Lee, at least in the near future. Can anyone tell me that they think Hamilton will be a sure thing NEXT year?

  8. Philllie697

    November 29, 2012 11:06 AM

    *Puzzled* Why would anyone want to trade Lee for a package centered around… Austin Jackson? Are you friends with Patrick J. Murphy?

  9. Pat

    November 29, 2012 11:14 AM

    The last three years Upton’s defense has been average according to Fangraphs and below average according to Baseball Reference. His on base skills are very shaky. I’m glad we passed.

  10. KH

    November 29, 2012 03:06 PM

    BJ Upton should be no one’s dream signing. I’d take Victorino back in a second at reasonable $$$.

  11. Philllie697

    November 29, 2012 03:44 PM

    @KH,

    He would have been pretty dreamy at 3/$30M. It’s all relative.

  12. BobSmith77

    November 29, 2012 09:33 PM

    Halladay is a sure-thing in ’13 after shoulder problems all last year and a notable fastball velocity drop?

  13. Scott G

    November 29, 2012 09:33 PM

    I must say, I’m surprised to see my cousin mentioned on this site haha.

  14. hk

    November 29, 2012 09:39 PM

    BobSmith,

    I’m pretty sure he meant Halladay was a sure-thing when they initially signed him.

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