By Nick Slegel
on Wednesday, November 28th
Ken Rosenthal is reporting via Twitter, that free agent centerfielder, B.J. Upton has signed a five year, $75.25 million contract with the Atlanta Braves, pending a physical. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as things have been moving in this direction in recent days, per ESPN’s Jim Bowden.
The 28 year old Upton provides the Braves with a much sought-after right handed bat, and will fill a big need in centerfield. While many consider him a defensive-downgrade from former centerfielder Michael Bourn, Upton will still provide solid defense along with Gold Glove winning-rightfielder Jason Heyward and leftfielder Martin Prado.
Over the last three years, Upton has averaged 23 homers, 74 RBIs, 36 stolen bases, a .242 batting average and a .317 on base percentage; while striking out 165 times in the ultra talented and ever competitive American League East. While some are worried Upton will be a strike out machine like second baseman Dan Uggla, with a lower on base percentage; he should fit nicely into the fifth or sixth hole in Manager Freddie Gonzalez’s batting order. While a move to the National League is usually an easy adjustment for hitters, the Nation League East is chock-full of highly talented pitchers, which won’t be a huge obstacle.
From a fantasy prospective, Upton’s averages from the last couple of seasons should carry over to the 2013 campaign, and he projects to be a solid outfield option.
2013 stat projections: 15-25 homeruns, 70-80 RBIs, 25-40 stolen bases, an average just below .250 and an on base percentage no higher than .300, with 150-170 strikeouts, depending on how well and quickly he adapts to National League pitchers.