Yes, I’m excited. Five years and $75.25 million is obviously a risk, but in my view, BJ Upton is clearly the best fit for the Braves among free-agent CF options, and he came a bit more cheaply than I thought possible. (I envisioned him signing with the Phillies for something like six years, $100 million. Speaking of which: Ryan Howard contract, LOL.)
A former top draft pick and top prospect out of Virginia — where he grew up with his brother Justin and good friend David Wright, either of whom would also make excellent additions to this Braves roster . . . — BJ bats right and throws right and has all the tools, but he’s been viewed as something of a disappointment because he’s never been the superstar it once looked like he might become.
He was drafted as a shortstop and played there (mixed with some second and third base) in his younger days, before being moved to the outfield for good in 2008. If you believe UZR, he’s a very good defensive CF; if you believe Runs Saved, he’s not. I’m torn, because I typically (strongly) prefer Runs Saved, but my own eyes think he’s pretty good out there.
He’s weird offensively, too. His career averages are pretty good — .255/.336/.436 — but that’s not really representative of any one season he’s had. He used to walk a lot more and hit a lot fewer homers. If you get five years of that slash-line in center, you’re easily getting your money’s worth, but it’s a bit less certain if he continues to be sub-.300-OBP/30-homer guy he was last year. My money’s on Greg Walker helping him to regain some plate discipline.
Anyway, he plays center field, and he hits lefties really, really well. He’s only 28 now and will be only 32 when this contract runs out — the Braves are buying what should be his best years. With the price of wins going up every year, it’s a very good bet that he’ll be worth his contract. Also, and perhaps most importantly, Bossman.