There are some rumors that get tossed out about possible trades and free agents that can quickly be written off as smokescreens from teams or agents, wishful thinking from fans or reporters trying to connect dots that don't line up. There are others, though, that make all the sense in the world.
Let's look at the parameters here: Upton is a free agent after the 2012 season, meaning the Rays' optimal time to trade him would be this year, before his contract becomes an issue. He's only making $4.825 million, though his play the last three seasons hasn't warranted much more than that after a terrific start to his major league career. But if the Rays can get something of value for him, it computes that they'd look to move him if they fall out of contention this summer.
There will be plenty of teams interested if they decide to do that, but the Nationals should certainly be on that list. General manager Mike Rizzo drafted Upton's brother, Justin, when he was with the Diamondbacks in 2005. He knows the Uptons' father, Manny, and has nothing but good things to say about the family and the Tidewater-area hotbed that reared both players, in addition to Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright, Mark Reynolds and Michael Cuddyer.
And when the Nationals were searching for outfield help last year, they called the Rays about Upton.
There's a long, long way to go before a trade might come together. The Rays would have to slide out of the AL East race, and the Nationals would have to part with a couple solid prospects to get Upton. But remember, Tampa Bay got a good look at the Nationals' farm system when the two teams were talking about a deal for Matt Garza over the winter. And Upton would give them the kind of speed-and-defense outfielder they'd like to have at the top of their lineup - hopefully one that gets on base more often than Nyjer Morgan did.
It's not as though a deal is imminent, but some of the soil to make this happen has already been tilled. As the season goes on, it's worth watching, especially if the Rays fall out of the race.