The Braves Will Be Paying The B.J. Upton Deal For Years – Not Just Money Either!
By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
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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
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?
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.
This team still won the NL East with a 96 – 66 record, before bowing out to the LA Dodgers in the NLDS.
This contending team depends on internal improvement, and this should be the case more than ever in 2014.
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.
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.
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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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Posted on November 27, 2013, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged 2013 NLDS, @MLBreports on twitter, Atlanta Braves, bj upton, Brian McCann, Bronson Arroyo, carlos beltran, chipper jones, Chuck Booth, craig kimbrel, dan uggla, eric o'flaherty, ervin santana, evan gattis, francisco liriano, frank wren, Jonny Venters, justin upton, matt garza, nelson cruz, NL east, paul maholm, pittsburgh pirates, scott kazmir, shin-soo choo, tim hudson, turner field. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.