There isn’t a lot going on at the General Manager Meetings from a transaction perspective, but many teams are laying the groundwork for possible signings and trades down the road. With that in mind, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com was told by a source that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has spoken with B.J. Upton’s agent, Larry Reynolds.
Frankly, it would probably be a bigger surprise if Amaro didn’t talk to Reynolds this week. Upton has been connected to the Phillies for awhile now and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com recently pegged the club as the favorites to land him. Salisbury is hearing similar things, as a number of executives expect the Phillies to be a major player while one said signing Upton is the team’s priority.
Josh Hamilton and Michael Bourn figure to get more money among free agent outfielders, but Upton will still be quite pricey. In fact, Salisbury writes that one executive from a team “that has probed the outfield market” has predicted that Upton will start out by asking for a seven-year deal worth between $13-16 million per season. That would put him in the range of $91-112 million, which is obviously bonkers. The same executive believes he’ll eventually settle for five guaranteed years with an option for a sixth.
Upton, 28, is a .255/.336/.422 hitter over his first eight seasons in the big leagues. He clubbed a career-high 28 home runs this season and was 31-for-37 in stolen base attempts.
ESPN’s Keith Law has released his annual top-100 prospects list. According to Law, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is the number one prospect in baseball.
After blazing through High-A and Double-A ball last season, Acuna was the youngest player in Triple-A in 2017. He was 19 years-old all season long and put up a fantastic line of .335/.384/.534 in 486 plate appearances at Double and Triple-A. He then went on to star in the Arizona Fall League, leading that circuit in homers. Law, who is not one to throw hyperbolic comps around, says, “if Acuna stays in center and maxes out his power, he’s going to be among the best players in baseball, with a Mike Trout-ish profile.”
Acuna, who is 20 now, is likely play the bulk of the season in Atlanta, even if he’s kept down at Triple-A for the first couple of weeks of the season to manipulate his service time, er, I mean to allow him to develop his skills more fully. Or something. Given the presence of reigning Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte, Acuna is not likely to man center for the Braves this year, but Law says he’d be a plus right field defender, which could make the Braves outfield Death to Flying Things in 2018. At least when Nick Markakis is not playing.
Number two on the list: Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As law notes, the name may be familiar but he’s not very much like his old man. Mostly because young Vlad can take a walk. Which is better, even if it’s nowhere near as fun as swinging at balls that bounce in the dirt first.
For the other 98, you’ll have to click through.