Rays, B.J. Upton avoid arbitration with one-year deal

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The Rays and B.J. Upton avoided arbitration today by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $4.825 million, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.

The Tampa Tribune reports that he could make an additional $25,000 based on plate appearances.

The 26-year-old Upton earned $3 million in 2010 after losing an arbitration hearing in his first year of eligibility. Hearings are uncomfortable for both sides, so it’s clear they didn’t want to have to go through that process again.

Upton batted .237/.322/.424 with 18 home runs, 62 RBI, a .745 OPS and 42 stolen bases in 51 attempts last season. He hit for more power, but his contact rate suffered in the process. His production against right-handed pitching also collapsed considerably, doing little to shed his reputation as a highly talented, yet enigmatic player.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.