Nationals’ interest in B.J. Upton has cooled somewhat

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B.J. Upton was among the many center fielders consistently linked to the Nationals at the trade deadline and the Rays placed him on revocable waivers yesterday, potentially setting up a trade.

However, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post “some Nationals scouts are lukewarm on him, especially at the plate” and “there’s healthy debate within the Nationals about the merits of making Upton their answer in center field.”

And rightfully so. Upton’s defense is excellent, but he’s hit just .235 with a .313 on-base percentage and .396 slugging percentage in 419 games during the past three seasons, including .224 with a .694 OPS this year.

He’s still just 26 years old, but Upton is in line for at least $6 million via arbitration next season and will then be eligible for free agency. Tampa Bay has Desmond Jennings as the heir apparent in center field, so their interest in getting something for Upton before he leaves for nothing is easy to understand. He may not make it to the Nationals on waivers anyway, in which case the current speculation will be moot, but all the Upton-to-Washington rumors figure to come alive again this offseason.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.