We heard Monday that the Rays would need to be overwhelmed in order to move B.J. Upton, but according to FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, they have had some recent conversations with the Nationals about their center fielder.
Washington has long been a suitor for Upton as it seeks to fill a big hole in center field. The Nationals have some interest in re-signing Rick Ankiel and moving Jayson Werth to center hasn’t been completely ruled out, but the team would love a long-term solution.
The problem there with Upton, besides his history of inconsistent offense, is that he’s now just one year away from free agency. He’s due a raise to $7 million or so in arbitration. Negotiating a long-term deal with Upton would likely be problematic, given his young, perceived upside and modest numbers. While he’s been a well above average regular despite hitting .237 and .243 the last two years, he’s never come close to matching the numbers he put up as a 22-year-old in 2007.
Since Upton is only under control for the one year, it’s doubtful the Nationals would be willing to give up closer Drew Storen for him, and the Nationals can’t offer the Rays any bats that would help them immediately. A match seems unlikely.
The Reds have signed free agent reliever Oliver Perez to a minor-league contract, the team announced Saturday. The deal comes with a major-league invite and could be worth $1.25 million if Perez secures a roster spot this spring, with an additional $500,000 in potential performance bonuses.
Perez, 36, is coming off of a two-year run with the Nationals. He produced a 4.64 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 an d10.6 SO/9 through 50 relief appearances and 33 innings with the club in 2017. The veteran lefty hasn’t kept an ERA under 4.00 in at least four seasons, but he continues to be undeniably solid against left-handed batters, holding them to a .227/.301/.364 batting line over 18 1/3 innings last year.
While returning southpaw Wandy Peralta appears to have locked down a bullpen spot already, Perez will still compete for another role against fellow left-handers Cody Reed and Amir Garrett, both of whom also have experience in the rotation. If Perez doesn’t break camp with the team, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon notes, he’ll be permitted to opt out of his contract. The Reds are currently looking to bounce back from a dismal performance in 2017, one in which their bullpen ranked 28th among major league teams with a collective 5.63 ERA and -1.2 fWAR.