Should the Rays sign Upton to a long-term deal?

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B.J. Upton and the Rays are only $300,000 apart in their arbitration filings, so the two sides should be able to find a compromise before the hearing.
Along those same lines Upton told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that he’d be “all for” working out a long-term contract this offseason.
Upton is arbitration eligible for the first time, so for the Rays there’s no rush to get something done, particularly since his OPS has dropped 100 points in back-to-back years following his 2007 breakout.
On the other hand, Upton’s perceived value and negotiating power have probably never been lower, so if the Rays are confident that the 25-year-old center fielder will turn things about they could get a pretty substantial discount on a long-term pact. Plus, while last season’s .241/.313/.373 mark was ugly Upton did swipe 42 bases and play excellent defense in center field.
Even a return to his fairly modest .266/.352/.410 career line, when combined with the speed and glove, would make him one of the better center fielders in the league. And presumably the Rays should know better than anyone whether or not Upton will bounce back in 2010 and beyond, so it’ll be interesting to see if they take him up on the long-term contract.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves