On Wednesday evening, social media lit up over reports that the Atlanta Braves had signed center fielder B.J. Upton. Less than an hour after the reports began, the news became official.
This is a huge signing for the Braves, who land the 28-year-old center fielder that spent his first eight seasons in the majors with the Tampa Bay Rays. Free agent center fielder Michael Bourn likely wasn’t going to re-sign with the Braves, so there was a desperate need to fill the hole in the outfield with a quality ballplayer.
And with Upton, the Braves didn’t just replace Bourn — they might have upgraded.
With Upton, the Braves get a center fielder with an extra year of big-league experience, but Bourn is a year older. Atlanta will get more of Upton’s prime years in the next half-decade.
They will also get a power hitter in Upton. In his last two seasons, Upton has hit at least 23 home runs, and his 28 homers in 2012 were a career-high. Bourn topped out with a career-high nine home runs last season. And not only will the Braves be adding a power bat, they’ll also be adding a right-handed hitter that was badly-needed in a lefty-heavy batting order.
Upton is also a speedster who stole at least 31 bases in each of the last five seasons. He will be able to get into scoring position and give the other power bats a quick chance to score a run, which should jolt the Atlanta offense. And in the field, prepare for an elite defensive player who can range as well as anyone in Major League Baseball.
Finally, this is a great move because it shows Braves fans that the management still intends to get better when high-priced players become free agents. There is always the fear that the ownership won’t continue to maintain a more pricey payroll, and in turn, the franchise could fall behind. Upton’s contract shows the Braves are still a player in the NL East, and they want to win another World Series.
Welcome to Atlanta, B.J.!
Final terms: Upton is five years, $75.25 million with #Braves. Pending physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 28, 2012