B.J. Upton trade rumors have been around for several seasons, and those whispers grew louder this weekend when the Rays called up top outfield prospect Desmond Jennings.
A few teams are known to have expressed interest in the 26 year old, with the Nationals being the club most frequently having their name tied to Upton. The Braves and Indians have also reportedly checked in on Upton and Buster Olney said yesterday that a few more teams have recently thrown their hats in the ring.
On the year, Upton has totaled 15 home runs and 52 RBI’s with 23 stolen bases in 95 games. Entering Sunday, his batting average dipped to .229 and he hasn’t managed to make it on base at high rate (.310).
Upton’s numbers have been solid but not spectacular in 2011, which has basically become the tagline of his career.
Expectations have been high for Upton since he was taken second overall in the 2002 amateur draft. In his first full season with the Rays in 2007, Upton posted an OPS of .894 with 24 home runs, 25 doubles and 82 RBI’s as a 22 year old.
Tampa figured they had a star in the making, but Upton has yet to post resembling numbers since. His batting average has steadily declined and he’s been unable to put up an OPS north of .800 since 2007.
Still he’s been solid on the base paths, swiping over 40 bags for three straight years. Upton’s also shown the ability to play decent defense in center, though his UZR/150 is currently at a career low of -2.6.
Upton is making $4.8 million this season and has one more year of arbitration remaining before becoming a free agent in 2013. Tampa would be unlikely to extend him beyond next season, and may not want to take on his increased salary in 2012 especially with Jennings waiting in the wings.
The Rays are said to be waiting until closer to the deadline to make a move for any of their players, watching how the standings take shape over the next week. Tampa has been playing good baseball this season, but still finds themselves 6.5 games out of the Wild Card.
Either way it looks like we’ll have to wait until right around the 31st to see if Rosenthal proves to be a guy we can all ‘count on’
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