B.J. Upton to Atlanta: Why the Minnesota Twins Lose Big with Braves' Big Signing

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B.J. Upton to Atlanta: Why the Minnesota Twins Lose Big with Braves' Big Signing
Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
With the Braves signing B.J. Upton, Denard Span's new home will not be in Atlanta.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Atlanta Braves reached an agreement Wednesday afternoon to sign B.J. Upton to a five-year, $75 million contract. 

Upton, considered one of the top free agents on the market at age 28, hit .245 with 28 home runs, 78 runs batted in and 31 stolen bases with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012.

Upton's new deal will have an impact around Major League Baseball as he sets the bar for other free agents to sign lucrative contracts. However, one wouldn't expect that impact to reach all the way up to Minnesota...but it does.

With the departure of their incumbent center fielder Michael Bourn considered imminent before the signing, the Braves were expected to be one of the possible destinations for Twins center fielder Denard Span as they go on an off-season crusade to find some decent starting pitching.

The Braves made plenty of sense as a trade partner from a Twins perspective too, as they boast some of the game's best pitching prospects, such as Randall Delgado (No. 46 prospect according to Baseball America heading into 2012) and Julio Teheran (No. 5 prospect headed into 2012).

With the Braves out of the picture, the Twins have to find another team willing to part with quality pitching prospects to bolster a rotation that ranked toward the bottom of the American League in each of the past two seasons.

One of those possible destinations could be Upton's former employer, the Rays.

Like the Braves, Tampa Bay has a similar amount of depth in their rotation and could be in the position to deal not only one of their top pitching prospects such as Jeremy Hellickson and Chris Archer, but possibly underrated ace James Shields.

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
The Twins need to quickly get on the horn with the Tampa Bay Rays if they want to acquire pitching (such as James Shields) for Denard Span.

 

The departure of Shields could be just as imminent as Upton's after the Rays signed third baseman Evan Longoria to a $100 million extension that stretches through 2013.

For a team that has the worst revenue stream in baseball, Shields' $9 million option could be out of the Rays' price range and could be a catalyst for a team like the Twins.

Regardless if the Rays make that deal, the fact is that Upton's signing has closed another window for the Twins to add to a rotation that currently features Scott Diamond and four spots up for grabs.

If the Twins wait too long, not only could it be a cold winter, but also another long summer for the franchise. 

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