Un-Bourn: The Braves Sign Free Agent B.J. Upton to a 5-Year Deal

11/28/12 in MLB   |   This_is_Rick   |   265 respect

While baseball insiders wait and watch what the Washington Nationals, the NL East team with ample cash and easiness of shopping for wants instead of needs, might do in the free-agent market, the Atlanta Braves struck first, signing the talented B.J. Upton to a five-year deal.
October 1, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder B.J. Upton (2) on base against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Baltimore Orioles 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
The deal, reported by FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter), is worth a reported $75.25 million and, pending a physical, is all but done; thus replacing free agent Michael Bourn in the outfield.
So, was it a smart move?
Upton will immediately provide above-average defense in the field—which some may argue is not better than lost commodity Michael Bourn—and certainly add more power in the Braves lineup. However, he falls short, with a career .255 average, over Michael Bourn's .272 mark for his career.
Yes, he will add the much-needed right-handed bat in the Braves order, but with a .237, .243 and .246 average over the past three seasons, respectively, you would have to wonder how much of a gamble it is for the Braves to put stock in a non-smoking barrel (bat that is).
After all, what are 20 home runs per season really worth this day and long-ball age?
It's certainly not $75 million-plus over five years, that's for sure. 
Free agent moves, based on success or failure, are never easy to predict this many months before a bat is even swung; in fact, it's impossible and rarely worth the strain on the phalanges doing so. 

At best, it opens a simple scenario of judgement: Only the 162-game grind and success over the Washington Nationals, the team that will most likely strike next in the market for the NL East, can answer the question of whether Upton will bring the Braves back to the Playoffs—or at least past the one-game extravaganza of the new Wild Card system.
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