The Braves had a shot to re-sign Michael Bourn, who had spent the last season and a half in Atlanta.
Instead they chose B.J. Upton, signing the former Tampa Bay Rays center fielder to a five-year, $75 million deal.
Not sure what that says about Bourn as he looks to get a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $80-90 million.
Upton certainly brings qualities that Bourn doesn’t; he’s nearly two years younger, has more pop in his bat and many scouts still feel he hasn’t yet lived up to his potential. But the Braves clearly preferred Upton (whose on-base percentage this season was .298, has strikeout numbers that are through the roof and presents character concerns) over the guy who made the All-Star team for them this year, and they went out and made a deal happen.
So where does that leave the center field market as we make our way deeper into the offseason? Here’s a list (complied by MLBTradeRumors.com) of the true center fielders still available:
Rick Ankiel (33)
Michael Bourn (30) - declined qualifying offer
Josh Hamilton (32) - declined qualifying offer
Reed Johnson (36)
Angel Pagan (31)
Scott Podsednik (37)
Grady Sizemore (30)
Shane Victorino (32)
See anything you like?
I think we can cross Ankiel off the list of options for the Nationals. That ship has sailed. Same goes for Morgan, who won’t be throwing on a Nats jersey again anytime soon.
Hamilton is a big risk and doesn’t seem to be a good fit in D.C. Sizemore can’t seem to ever stay healthy.
Outside of Bourn, two other interesting options are Pagan and Victorino, who would require a shorter contract and significantly less money than Bourn.
These are the guys that the Nationals and Phillies, among other teams, are left to consider.
We know the Nats’ situation: if they don’t end up re-signing Adam LaRoche, Michael Morse can move to first base, and Bryce Harper can be shifted to a corner outfield spot. That would allow the Nats to try and add a free agent center fielder, or possibly engage the Twins in discussions (yet again) for Denard Span.
The Nats could also keep Harper in center and put Tyler Moore out in left, or even sign someone to play left field, although the market for corner outfielders isn’t as strong this offseason.
There are plenty of options. At least with Upton signing, we’re getting closer to seeing how everything plays out.