The Braves Will Be Paying The B.J. Upton Deal For Years – Not Just Money Either!

The Brothers Upton both were acquired in the offseason by the Atlanta Braves.  This was a risk for the organization, and while Justin played extremely well in condensed pockets, Upton is quickly establishing himself as one of the worst contracts ever signed in Major League Baseball.  a .184/.268/.557 - with 9 HRs and 26 RBI is simply abysmal.  The Braves brass should send him to the Winter Leagues, to correct his problems.

The Brothers Upton both were acquired last year’s offseason by the Atlanta Braves. This was a risk for the organization, and while Justin played extremely well in condensed pockets, B.J. Upton is quickly establishing himself as one of the worst contracts ever signed in Major League Baseball history, a .184/.268/.557 – with 9 HRs and 26 RBI is simply abysmal. The Braves brass should have sent him to the Winter Leagues, to correct his problems.  The younger brother is still on the hook for 4 more years – and $60 MIL.  Not only is the franchise jaded towards signing another Free Agent this winter to a similar deal, they have lost their 2 longest tenured players in Brian McCann and Tim Hudson.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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It is a not a shock the Braves are shying away from the Free Agency thus far in the winter.  After all, the franchise spent the most they ever had for B.J. Upton last offseason, only to have been served a train wreck in 2013.

Honestly, besides the 1st month, and a torrid stretch in August, Justin Upton wasn’t far off the power production of his older brother in the other 4 months of play.

If it weren’t for the Chris Johnson add in that deal (Braves savior), plus his subsequent Batting Average race for the NL lead, this would be an even graver subject.

The last line was not an indictment on the Braves and D’Backs trade, rather just that Johnson helped make up for the lack of production from B.J. Upton. 

We all know overall Justin Upton made the same numbers as were likely projected.  That trade is yet to be determined, but adding Johnson was a nice little move.

B.J. Upton – rare good game in 2013

I am still stunned that the Atlanta organization ever signed Upton to a deal like that in the 1st place.  This was the model franchise in the 1990's all the way through towards 14 straight years of Division Titles. The reason why they were so successful, was that they made sound and savvy transactions. The Braves I once knew, would never pay $75 MIL over 5 years, to a guy who had an OBP of .298 in his Free Agent year.

I am still stunned that the Atlanta organization ever signed Upton to a deal like that in the 1st place. This was the model franchise in the 1990′s – all the way through towards 14 straight years of Division Titles.  The team restocked, traded away Veterans, and are one of the better young franchises yet again.  The reason why they are so successful, was that they usually make sound and savvy transactions. The Braves I once knew, would never pay $75 MIL over 5 years, to a guy who had an OBP of .298 in his Free Agency year.  Atlanta will be punished for this contract until 2017.  At least the team will be able to generate more revenue from their new ballpark by then.

A lot of experts were baffled by the signing.  Upton killed the offense to a tune of .184/.268/.557 – with 9 HRs and 26 RBI in 446 AB.

This contract may go down as one of the worst Free Agent signings ever by the time the contract has gone all the way through.

His $15 MIL average per year contract could have gone towards resigning McCann, or perhaps be allotted for a nice #2 or #3 Starter on the open market.

It is tough to bank on the CF or the 2B for the 2014 campaign, which eats a total of $28 MIL towards team payroll – when adding Uggla’s $13 MIL to B.J deal.  That is a whole lot of jack for little back in return.

I am not one for the WAR stat, but I know how it is commuted, so his -1.8 OWAR is a glaring admission the team made a horrendous mistake with the contract.

Again, I go back to B.J. Upton. 

Go look at his Baseball Reference page: he has never made an ALL – Star Appearance, never finished in the top for any voting award on offense or defense, and the only Italic that is beside his name is a Caught Stealing lead in 2008.

B.J. Upton has never scored 100 Runs, or driven in 100 RBI, yet Atlanta burst onto the scene to hand the guy that much cash last winter.

It is now a cautionary tale for any other organization.

Maybe in his 2nd year with the club, now that he has seen some of the NL pitchers for a full year, the guy will be better in the lineup.

So what are his 2014 numbers going to be?  I think Atlanta would love .230/.300/.720 – with 20 HRs, 65 RBI and double digit steal totals.

Again, these were numbers that could have been projected before the Braves inked the deal last year, but definitely not worthy of $15 MIL deal.

Think of what that dollar total might net this year on the market, maybe a Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz or Shin-soo Choo?  These guys might receive more, but it will be in the realm of the B.J. Upton money.

Can you imagine the furry and venom aimed at Frank Wren, if this team didn’t win the NL East last season?

Lucky for Upton, teammates Jason Heyward struggled early, and Dan Uggla hit right down where he was for averages.

Upton, 29 now, needs to hit to the numbers on the back of his bubblegum card in 2014.  If not that high, at least be in the ballpark.

At least the younger Upton (Justin), only made $9.75 MIL last year, but he will jump to $14.5 MIL for the next 2 years of his contract, before he hits Free Agency.

As bad as Uggla was last season, he still clubbed 22 HRs and knocked in 55 RBI, while he  featured a .309 OBP (despite a .179 BA.)  At least Uggla had an eye problem for an excuse.

The Braves have already seen their team leader Brian McCann leave the nest for a 5 YRs/$85 MIL deal with the Yankees.

Now they have an heir apparent with offensively gifted Evan Gattis taking the reigns, but his defense is not the same as McCann, plus who knows about a sophomore jinx.

The team also said good-bye to Tim Hudson.  These 2 men were the longest tenured Braves in 2013.

That is a lot of leadership leaving town, and you must also consider that Chipper Jones retired after last year.

The organization needs Starting Pitching and some depth at OF and 2B based on their struggling, high payroll players – and with the team payroll escalating to what it has, they will likely not be able to upgrade much.

Justin Upton clubbed 12 HRs and 19 RBI for April.  A month where they sprinted 12 -1 out of the starting blocks.

Justin Upton clubbed 12 HRs and 19 RBI for April. A month where they sprinted 12 -1 out of the starting blocks.  His HRs for the month went APR – 12, MAY – 2, June – 1, July – 1, August – 8 and Sept/Oct – 3.  OPS by the month: 1.136/.654/.616/.757/1.023 and .743.  Justin Upton still finished the year with his usual 3 slash of .283/.354/.818 – and 27 HRs and 70 RBI – numbers who would be happy with.  But other than those 2 months, which you can’t discount, the other 4 months were hard for Atlanta to gain consistency.  When both Upton’s were struggling it was hard to stomach.  Again, I am ranting more on B.J., as Justin had a decent overall year.

This team still won the NL East with a 96 – 66 record, before bowing out to the LA Dodgers in the NLDS.

They will have a better Bullpen in 2014, with returning veterans Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters coming back from injury.

This contending team depends on internal improvement, and this should be the case more than ever in 2014.

I personally believe they would be better off not signing the crazy Free Agent Starting Pitchers like Ervin Santana or Matt Garza, as I think both of those guys will be grossly overpaid.

Better options for some veteran help would be Bronson Arroyo, bringing back Paul Maholm, maybe signing a guy like Joe Saunders, and they should take a flier on Phil Hughes.

Hughes could really benefit from a move to the National League, and I think if he doesn’t work out as a Starter early, then he should be given a chance as a Reliever soon thereafter.

Another guy that may be a good stab is Scott Kazmir.  If you will, maybe he could do for Atlanta, what Francisco Liriano did for the Pirates in 2013.

Jason Heyward has given the club faith he can take over as the team's Leadoff guy.  He featured a 3 Slash of .322/.405/.954 with 30 Runs Scored in 30 Game Starts from that position.  If he can keep up a similar track in 2014 from there it could mask B.J.'s poor totals going forward.

Jason Heyward has given the club faith he can take over as the team’s permanent Leadoff guy. He featured a 3 Slash of .322/.405/.954 with 30 Runs Scored in 30 Game Starts from that position. If he can keep up a similar track in 2014 from there it could mask B.J.’s poor totals going forward.

They should definitely sign some guys this Free Agents, just don’t break the bank in order to do it.

Atlanta is also in a position where they could make some trades during the 2014 season.

Some club should really investigate how smart it is to pay a guy pro – rated for 2 – 3 months on an expiring contract, rather than spend money for a guy on a full year basis in going forward.

We will have a lot of coverage of the Braves over the next 5 months , and not all we will be as harsh as the blog just written.

It would be one thing if B.J. Upton were the only player on the Braves who had an abysmal season.  When you add the injuries and the season of Dan Uggla to Upton worst year of his career, it is actually amazing this team ended with 96 Wins.  With the club losing Brian McCann, Paul Maholm and Tim Hudson, they will need Upton and CO. to rebound for the team to contend again in 2014.  Upton has to get back to 20/20 years for powers and steals, and at least hit to 85% of his career 3 slash - to justify the contract doled out by the Atlanta Braves.

It would be one thing if B.J. Upton were the only player on the Braves who had an abysmal season. When you add the injuries and the season of Dan Uggla to Upton worst year of his career, it is actually amazing this team ended with 96 Wins. With the club losing Brian McCann, Paul Maholm and Tim Hudson, they will need Upton and CO. to rebound for the team to contend again in 2014. Upton has to get back to 20/20 years for powers and steals, and at least hit to 85% of his career 3 slash – to justify the contract doled out by the Atlanta Braves.

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Chuck Booth - Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner and author of the Fastest 30 Ballgames:   To learn more about my  “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book” and how to purchase it, click here .

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About chuckbooth3023

I played competitive baseball until 18 years old and had offers to play NCAA Division 1 University Baseball at Liberty University. Post-concussion symptoms from previous football and baseball head injuries forced me to retire by age 19. After two nearly made World Record Attempts in 2008, I set a New World Record by visiting all 30 MLB Parks (from 1st to last pitch) in only 24 Calendar Days in the summer 0f 2009. In April of 2012, I established yet another new GWR by visiting all 30 Parks in only 23 Calendar Days! You can see the full schedule at the page of the www.mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker

Posted on November 27, 2013, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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