B.J. Upton Betrays Phillies, Signs With Atlanta. So What’s Next For the Phils?


B.J. is heading to Atlanta. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

B.J. Upton’s betrayal is complete. The free agent center fielder became the first big free agent domino to fall, signing a five-year, $75 million deal with the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, ending speculation that the young, power-hitting, on-base challenged former Tampa Bay Ray would end up in Phillies’ pinstripes.

Man, that Jimmy Rollins is one lousy salesman.

Here’s the deal… if Ruben Amaro really wanted B.J. Upton, he’d be a Phillie today. When Amaro wants a player, he usually gets him.

There’s a remarkable thing that happens when a free agent who is rumored to be a potential target for the Phillies signs with another team.

Hey, that’s a great idea! Let’s do that!

While Upton has terrific power, youth, speed and plays good defense, he also has a history of focus and hustle issues (something Phils fans aren’t too keen on), strikes out a lot, and has trouble getting on base. Of course, none of those negatives seemed as important when it appeared as if the Phils might be his landing spot. The fellas over at Tomahawk Take broke down all of Upton’s negatives, which makes me feel a whole lot better about Atlanta signing him to a $15 million a year contract.

So, with Upton crossed off the center field list, who’s next?

As everyone in the free world knows by now, Pagan is, has been, and will be my first choice as free agent, PROVIDED the deal doesn’t stretch to five years. It’s unknown what Pagan is asking for at the moment.

What the Phillies need is more power and someone who can get on base. Josh Hamilton hit 43 HRs, had a .354 on base percentage, and slugged .577. If the market for Hamilton dwindles so low that he can be had on a three-year deal, bringing him into the fold might be an option. Anything more than that, the Phillies should flee with their hair on fire.

Another free agent possibility includes bringing back Shane Victorino, but that move wouldn’t make the Phillies any better than they were at the start of last season. Plus, Victorino’s RH/LH splits have gotten so drastic, he’s really more of a platoon player at this point.

And of course there’s Michael Bourn, who would answer the Phillies’ issues at the top of the order. He’s a terrific lead-off hitter, has terrific wheels, gets on base and steals bases. But his age (30) and expected price tag likely  makes him a bad fit for Philly.

Josh Hamilton is the best combination of power and on-base ability on the market. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

However, don’t be surprised if he’s the guy.

Of course, given the expected prices and flaws of the remaining center field free agents, perhaps a trade for Colorado’s Dexter Fowler or Anaheim’s Peter Borjos is looking even better to Ruben Amaro as the Winter Meetings approach.

What is a good sign is that it appears Amaro is letting the market establish itself. He seems to recognize he has lots of options in center field and seems willing to wait for the right player and right deal to present itself.

The Phillies WILL acquire a center fielder, and it will probably happen before Christmas.

In the meantime, to everyone in Atlanta, enjoy B.J. Upton and his .298 on base percentage!

Here in Philadelphia, we’ll pray Upton’s speed, power and defense don’t end up killing the Phillies for the next five years.