The Atlanta Braves never seemed to have much interest in bringing Michael Bourn back. He was fantastic while he was with them, but it's understandable that the club wanted to go younger. And they did yesterday - just not much younger. The Braves signed free agent B.J. Upton, and the eight-year veteran will now be patrolling the Braves' outfield.
According to Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Braves and Upton agreed to a five-year, $75.25 million contract. O'Brien says it is the largest free agent contract in Braves history. Upton will be announced as the team's new center fielder today as long as he passes a physical.
Upton is 28 years old, so Atlanta is getting a center fielder who is one year younger than their previous center fielder, Michael Bourn. However, Upton has proven to be far more durable over the last few years. Upton has played in more games than Bourn in two of the last three seasons. Bourn was injured for much of the 2011 season which may have soured Atlanta's opinion of him. While Upton may not turn out to be much of an upgrade, the team hopes he will stay healthy.
In his career, Upton is a .255/.336/.422 hitter. He has 118 home runs in his career and seems to have found his power stroke of late. In 2012, Upton hit a career-best 28 home runs. However, his batting average and OBP left much to be desired. In total, Upton's line last season was .246/.298/.454.
Bourn, on the other hand, was not much of a power threat. His career-high in home runs was nine last season. Perhaps that's the main reason Atlanta wanted Upton over Bourn, but for the money both of them are going to be paid this offseason (Bourn has yet to sign), it makes sense to at least consider the player's durability. The Braves likely did so in their selection of Upton.
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