November 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
According to Ken Rosenthal’s twitter, the Braves have signed BJ Upton to play centerfield. The contract being reported by @BNightengale says it is a five year $70-75m contract.
That contract seems very reasonable to me, and using a $5m per win estimation and assuming it is for $75m, the Braves are essentially expecting him to be a three win player throughout the next five years. While there are certainly risks in any long term deal, see Derek Lowe and Dan Uggla, I do like taking a gamble on Upton for this length and for this amount of money.
While it is doubtful that he outproduces Bourn’s 2012 season, he does provide the Braves with solid defense in center as well as a powerful right-handed bat that has historically hit left-handed pitchers very well.
Upton has had a few big seasons, most notably his 2007 and 2008 campaigns, and while it is true that he has never quite maximized his potential, that is one of the reasons I am in favor of signing him. It is rare that a free agent signing has the ability to actually be better than he has been. I caution everyone not to expect him to be better, but the potential for him to perform at a higher level is real.
What we are getting is essentially a 3.5 win player in a prime position during the prime of his career. He has had a history with “lackadasical” performances that may cause some to worry about his level of interest, but that is pure speculation and does not belong at a place like this where we are here to discuss baseball in a logical and reasonable manner.
If I had to make a quick projection of what to expect out of him, his season last year certainly looks reasonable. His average and on base percentage were subpar, but he hit 28 home runs and stole 31 bases in a pitcher’s ballpark.