The Phillies are seen as a favorites for B.J. Upton

26 Comments

Most Phillies fans around these parts have talked about Ruben Amaro going after Michael Bourn. But like Yoda said — and now Jon Heyman reports — there is another:

The Braves will make a qualifying offer Friday to Michael Bourn, and the Rays will make one to B.J. Upton, as well. But the top two free-agent center fielders on the market will turn those offers down and are more likely to sign long free-agent deals elsewhere … Baseball officials still see the Nationals as the favorites for Bourn, while the Phillies are seen as an early favorite for Upton.

Boras bluster and perception aside, I’m not sure that Upton wouldn’t be the better signing. he’s younger than Bourn even though it seems like he’s been around forever. And one gets the sense — and maybe it’s just wishful thinking, I’ll admit — that Upton has some crazy monster season in him at some point. A blip season, perhaps, that one day later we call a fluke, but one like that all the same.

Moreover, Bourn would probably be more expensive than Upton, and that could be a consideration. It’s hard to say what the budget constraints are for the Phillies. Yes, they have a big payroll already, but they also have a new TV deal coming in a couple of years that will likely give them a lot more dough.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
3 Comments

Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.