|Will B.J. Upton be doing this in Atlanta next season? (US Presswire)|
As Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports, the Braves on Wednesday hosted free-agent center fielder B.J. Upton at Turner Field in hopes of luring him to Atlanta for 2013 and beyond. Upton has reportedly already been tabbed as the Braves' top target this offseason.
The Braves will have a vacancy at Upton's position assuming that outgoing center fielder Michael Bourn signs elsewhere. Bowman projects that Bourn and Upton each figure to command a five-year contract worth around $75 million.
Upton can match Bourn's speed on the bases and defense while offering substantially more power. As well, he's almost two years younger. Getting out of the tough AL East and into the National League might also serve Upton well (as would recouping his pre-2012 walk rates). Last season, Upton batted .246/.298/.454 with 28 homers and 31 steals in 37 attempts.