Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted this Tuesday afternoon:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 19, 2016
What? Isn’t this a rebuild? Why does Justin Upton make sense for this team?
It’s easy. The Braves thought they could get a bargain. Yes, they’re still building towards the future, but Upton is young enough to be a part of that. Rosenthal states in the article that the Braves talked about a six-year deal that was worth less than what the Detroit Tigers offered, but no numbers were ever exchanged. Here is the Braves quote in Rosenthal’s story:
“We did speak with Justin’s representatives but were unable to find something that worked for both sides, and we wish him the best in Detroit,” Braves general manager John Coppolella said. “We remain both opportunistic and disciplined in the trade and free-agent markets.”
If you’re the Braves and you’re still trying to sell this fan base on competing in 2017, the Justin Upton, at the right price, makes a ton of sense.
Firstly, it makes it look like you are serious about competing in 2017. Everyone has different assumptions on this matter, but it would be hard to argue that the Braves were trying to “tank” if they just landed one of the top talents on the free agent market off the board.
Secondly, Upton was already a fan favorite in Atlanta. The bat would have put butts in the seats and created a stir about the team entering 2016.
Lastly, if you could get Upton at a discounted rate, you grab him. Sure Upton has his flaws, but If you could sign him to a $20 AAV contract or less for a guy that will slash .270/.350/.470, you’ve got a steal and Upton is young enough (28) that the contract wouldn’t hurt you in the later years.
Yes, Upton made sense. No, he didn’t sign. That’s fine too as the Braves are already crowded in the outfield and Upton’s streakiness can get downright frustrating at times. It’s hard to put a guy in the middle of your lineup when he’s as cold as Upton can get, but, boy, is he fun to watch when he’s hot.