As the Nationals move through the 2012 offseason with an apparent interest in signing an outfielder, they may face competition from some of their closest rivals.
According to NBC Sports, free agent center fielder B.J. Upton has already met with both the Braves and the Phillies. The Braves have an opening because of the expected departure of Michael Bourn, another big name on the outfield free agent market.
Upton Tweeted on Friday his enjoyment of the free agent tour as he is likely to see interest from more than just two teams.
I'm really blown away by the love other cities are showing me right now. Can't wait to see how this pans out. #intrigued
— BJ Upton (@BJUPTON2) November 16, 2012
The meeting on Thursday with Atlanta took place at Turner Field with Braves general manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez there to make the pitch. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported the Braves view Upton as “as the most attractive outfielder available on the free agent market.”
Upton’s meeting with Philly was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and less information is known as to how it went.
The Nationals would also seem to have interest in Upton, a player they have been linked to several times over the past few years. No other teams have been said to have contacted him yet, but it looks like there is an increasing chance Upton lands in the National League East. Where exactly is anyone’s guess.
Bowman says Upton and Bourn could each be looking for deals as long as five years and for as much as $75 million. Upton being two years younger may be the reason he is further along in the process of getting signed. If the Nationals signed either player for those terms they would have Jayson Werth and either Bourn or Upton locked in to their outfield through 2017. With Harper also in the mix, they would be solidifying their three outfield positions for the foreseeable future.
The Nationals still remain committed to re-signing first baseman Adam LaRoche. Both Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson have voiced their intention to bring him back and all signs point to that being their first order of business. While updates on LaRoche and the Nationals has been scarce, their division rivals are aggressively looking to make their first moves. If the Nationals do sign Upton or Bourn, it could affect retaining LaRoche, and vice versa. Whichever move they make first, if they choose to do one or the other, could set up the dominoes for the rest of their offseason. Either move would then affect the future of Michael Morse and the positions of first base and left field.