Can the Atlanta Braves Pry B.J. Upton Away from the Phillies and Nationals?

Jason AmareldCorrespondent IINovember 15, 2012

April 20, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder B.J. Upton (2) runs back to the dugout after he hit a ground out in the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Everyone is well aware that B.J. Upton is one of the prized center field free-agents going into 2013. The Nationals, Phillies and Braves are all in need of a center fielder, and the race to persuade Upton has recently heated up.'s Mark Bowman has recently blogged that Upton made a visit to Turner Field to discuss the possibility of joining the team. He also stated GM Frank Wren and coach Fredi Gonzalez were present to greet him.

Since Upton played in Tampa Bay, he may not want to play in a pressure cooker like Citizens Bank Park. The fans are tough in Philly, and he may want to play in a more relaxed environment. The Phillies will probably have more money to throw at Upton, and they are desperate for a power hitting right-handed bat that can also play center. So it may come down to money and years to acquire Upton.

As for the Nationals, I believe Upton will be out of the Nationals price range if they go ahead and re-sign first baseman Adam LaRoche. If they cannot come to terms with LaRoche, they will go hard after Upton, move Michael Morse over to first base and Bryce Harper to left field.

Atlanta is full of young, talented players, where the Phillies are a team packed with high-priced veterans. This may be a great selling point for Frank Wren, and it would be wise to use this in his strategy of trying to convince Upton to come to Atlanta.

Upton is 28 and is looking for a long-term deal; Braves' fans may be skeptical to add another low-average power hitter who strikes out a ton. They already have one of those in Dan Uggla, and he has been very inconsistent since his arrival. If Upton turns out like Uggla, they could be in serious trouble moving forward.

Another concern will be how Upton's power translates over to the spacious Turner Field. If his power numbers drop and his average stays the same, he probably won't be worth the money he is expected to receive.

At this point in the offseason, the Braves seem to be all in with going after Upton. With their abundance of young all-stars, the Braves may have moved to the front of the pack in signing him.

Ruben Amaro Jr. and Mike Rizzo will probably schedule time to meet with Upton soon. It will be interesting to see how they pitch Upton to their teams since the Braves have the edge in young talent.

When it's all said and done, it will most likely come down to Philadelphia and Atlanta, with the edge in favor of the Atlanta Braves.