Baseball Insider

B.J. Upton visited Braves, Phillies, but leaves them, maybe others waiting

Waiting on B.J. Upton isn't exactly like waiting on Godot. But it's not going as quickly as some might hope, either.

Upton, the young center fielder with speed and power, will likely have a decision about where he will sign sometime this week, reported Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. But others counter: Who knows?

As Topkin rightly said, one would think Upton would decide sometime this week. But the others who know there are no deadlines aren't wrong, either. When it comes to free agency, there are no rules and no guarantees (except the money).

Upton visited with both the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies at least 10 days ago. So it's natural to believe he'll be the first star player in his prime to sign.

Some may wonder why it's taking so long. But by the standards of free agency, it's still very early in the season.

Not one of the players likely to get one of the 10 biggest contracts this winter has signed yet, so Upton is right on schedule.

That doesn't mean there aren't some anxious folks.

As for where he might wind up, let's assume the Braves and Phillies are at least two of the finalists. But there could be others. Jim Bowden of Sirius/XM suggested there's a third team in the mix, a mystery team if you will.

The mystery team can never be discounted. The Giants and possibly the Nats also seek a center fielder, while the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Mariners, Brewers and Orioles are among other teams considering signing an outfielder. (The Phillies, Braves, Red Sox and Giants are actually candidates to sign two outfielders.)

Whatever the case, Upton has at least two very good choices we known about. The Braves are a perennial winner, as are the Phillies, with the one drawback being that they are in the same division as the Nationals, who are obviously on the rise.

Both would allow the Norfolk Va.-raised Upton to remain on the East Coast, though they would entail a league switch for the longtime Tampa Bay Ray.

It seems pretty clear the Braves have Upton, 28, as their top center-field choice, even over their own Michael Bourn, whether that's because of Upton's youth, his power or his expected price. (Upton hit a career-high 28 home runs in 2012 to go with 31 stolen bases, which marked the fifth straight time he's stolen at least 30. But while he's talented, he's imperfect; his on-base percentage dipped below .300 [.298] for the first time in his career.)

With the Phillies, it's not quite as clear whether he's their No. 1 choice or their 1A. Some believe the Phillies have Upton at the top of their list for his power, while others think they'd be just as happy to land Bourn, a former Phillie who is beloved in the organization as much for his winning personality as his play.

It's possible the Phillies see Upton as the better fit since he is righthanded and could be plugged into the middle of a mostly lefty lineup. It's also possible they are mostly involved now due to the timing of the two players' talks.

Upton is going to sign first.

At least we think he is.

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