November 29, 2012
Upton Goes to A-Town
Signed OF-R B.J. Upton to a five-year deal worth $75 million. [11/28]
No free agent receives more credit for his remaining upside than Upton does. Because of Upton’s athleticism and rare blend of power and speed, there are those who believe his best is yet to come. What is lost during those reveries is the fact that Upton is already a solid player, one capable of helping a competitive team win ballgames. The player’s future is a point of emphasis with any long-term contract. That’s why Upton might be the most polarizing player to sign so far this winter.
While Upton does have great physical gifts, leading to possible upside, there is potential downside to be found here as well. It sounds cliché, but while Upton has good-to-great tools, his baseball skills could use additional seasoning. The 28-year-old took steps toward sharpening those skills last season. He cut down on boneheaded plays, like throwing to the wrong base, in the field, yet he remains a work in progress in other areas. For example, the Rays had him go on the pitcher’s first move, rationalizing that it would take two good throws instead of one to nail Upton. While the instruction has paid off with good success rates, it also leaves Upton’s future as an efficient base stealer in doubt once his explosiveness wanes.