For weeks, it appeared that the Philadelphia Phillies had a sure bet in center field this offseason. B.J. Upton was the club’s favored free agent to fill voids in center as well as the club’s much-needed right-handed presence in the lineup.
Insert Philadelphia's NL East rival, the Atlanta Braves.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Upton and the Braves have reached a multi-year deal, pending a physical.
But were the Phillies ever the favorites for Upton, or was it a smoke screen by Ruben Amaro Jr.?
In a recent interview with Jim Salisbury, Amaro stated, “We can’t put all our resources into one area and not address others.”
What are the Phillies’ plans exactly?
There are still viable free agents out there to fill the void in center field. Angel Pagan, Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino and even Josh Hamilton are just a few names being tossed around the rumor mill.
The Phillies could also upgrade the position via trade. B.J. Upton’s younger brother, Justin, has been mentioned along with Peter Bourjos, although the Diamondbacks and Angels will be looking for starting pitchers at the major and minor league levels in return.
Bourn now appears to be the front-runner for the Phillies' center field spot, but is he the right fit for the club? The Phillies do need a natural leadoff hitter, but Bourn will come with a hefty price tag, leaving little wiggle room for other positions.
Pagan could be another free-agent option. He isn't a better fit than Bourn, but he's a different fit. Pagan is a switch-hitter with the ability to play multiple outfield positions. The Phillies would also save some money in signing him, leaving enough funds for a third baseman.
Victorino and Hamilton are both longshots. It’s difficult seeing the Phillies bringing back Victorino, and Hamilton is just too expensive.
If the Phillies were to conjure a trade with the Diamondbacks and acquire Justin Upton, it would be the ideal situation, even if this means unloading Vance Worley or Kyle Kendrick.
This is wishful thinking.
The Phillies face an interesting dilemma since their division rivals just made a big splash for next season. Yet fans should not be surprised if Amaro executes a miraculous signing or trade as he has done in years past.
It just goes to show you that rumors are just that—rumors.
Don't you just love the offseason?