The Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly in talks with free agent outfielder B.J. Upton’s agent, according to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly.
Upton is a 28-year old center fielder coming off his best professional season, and he will be a hot commodity in free agency. Upton is in no means Josh Hamilton, but he has a lot going for him. Upton should command a deal around five years for maybe $12-15 million per season.
That’s a lot to pay for any player, especially one with as many glaring weaknesses as Upton. While Upton did hit 28 home runs and steal 31 bases in 2012, he also shows poor plate patience and strikes out a ton. His .298 on-base percentage last year was one of the worst in the big leagues, and he seems to have gotten substantially worse in terms of his patience over the years.
Upton drew walks in as many as 15.2 percent of his plate appearances when the Tampa Bay Rays reached the World Series in 2008. He had 97 that year, dropped to 57 the following year, and posted just 45 free passes in 633 plate appearances last season.
Upton also struck out a career-high 169 times, which is not a good sign for a Phillies team that already sees a ton of strikeouts with Ryan Howard.
Upton can hit for power and run though, and he would lock down the center field position for at least the next half-decade. The Phillies have a void to fill there as they let Shane Victorino walk in free agency, and it’s doubtful GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. wants to go with a player like John Mayberry, Jr. in 2013.
There are several strong ties for Upton to come to Philly though – he is a right-handed bat that the team desperately needs and the Phillies just signed his former hitting coach in Tampa Bay.