UPDATE: November 29, at 12:20 PM EST by Sam Westmoreland
Well, it's official: B.J. Upton is an Atlanta Brave. MLB.com tweeted out the official word on Thursday morning.
Braves fans finally get the outfield bat with pop they've been hoping for to pair with Jason Heyward, and Upton's defensive range can only help this team win games. If he can cut down on his strikeouts, the Braves have the elite hitter they've been needing.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has the news:
B.J. Upton and #Braves are in agreement, pending physical. Terms of contract not yet known.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 28, 2012
He then gives us the details of the contract:
Final terms: Upton is five years, $75.25 million with #Braves. Pending physical.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 28, 2012
The Braves went 94-68 last season, and although they were ousted in the first wild-card play-in game, it's clear they are on the brink of being a legitimate World Series contender.
Upton, their No. 1 target coming into free agency, should help them continue to move in that direction (via CBS' Jon Heyman):
Bj upton was braves clear No. 1 choice. Liked speed-power-youth combo. Phillies, others were in.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 28, 2012
Even if he doesn't instantly improve Atlanta's record, Upton will, at the very least, help replace Michael Bourn, who is (now more than ever) expected to leave via free agency.
Bourn was an All-Star and even received a few votes in the MVP race, but Upton is no slouch, either.
In 146 games for the Rays last season, the 27-year-old hit just .246 and made it on base at a .298 clip, but his 28 homers and 31 stolen bases were clearly too enticing for Atlanta to pass up.
The Braves finished ninth and 10th respectively in home runs and slugging percentage last year, and Upton's power out of the center field position should only improve those numbers.
There's no question that Upton brings with him plenty of question marks (for the advanced types, his WAR of 2.6 last season will be very underwhelming), and as a result this signing will be looked at with a critical eye.
But the young veteran was seen as one of the top free agents of the 2013 class, and the Braves did what they had to do to acquire his talented services.