Got an albatross hanging around your neck, GMs? Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times speculates that if everything goes just right — or just wrong, depending on your point of view — maybe the Rays will help you out.
After listing any number of available outfielders who could possibly help the Rays, Topkin drops this:
Another scenario is to wait and see which team blinks first and eats almost all the bad-contract money on a distressed veteran such as Ryan Howard, ex-Ray B.J. Upton or, dare we say it, Alex Rodriguez.
If I found a genie in a bottle, the first wish would be for health and happiness for my family, the second would be for a billion dollars but the third would almost certainly be the Rays picking up Ryan Howard, B.J. Upton and Alex Rodriguez and winning the dang World Series.
The Braves traded Jason Heyward to the Cardinals last month in a deal that netted them Shelby Miller. It wasn’t a popular move with the fan base, but it was deemed necessary with Heyward one year away from free agency. Some more familiar faces could soon be on the move, with Justin Upton and Evan Gattis reportedly on the block, but new Braves president John Hart indicated to Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a change in direction doesn’t bother him.
“Let’s be honest: This team finished 29th in offense,” Hart said. “It’s not like I’m breaking up the ’27 Yankees.”
That’s a pretty decent line. Hart denies that the team is in tear-down mode, and the recent signing of Nick Markakis would seem to back that up, but he also realizes that they aren’t ready to compete with the Nationals. They also owe $28 million combined to Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton in 2015. That means they have to ask themselves some difficult questions with a new ballpark coming in 2017.
“We had a tough year, and I know there was a lot of speculation about us going into this winter,” Hart said. “We had the 29th-ranked farm system in baseball. We had some bad contracts. Everybody felt there would be some players we would definitely unload — become a seller, if you will. But we’ve never felt like there was something we had to do. Obviously we’re contractually obligated to some players who aren’t performing well. But just because 2017 is coming, it doesn’t mean we’re going to throw a hand grenade on the club and blow it up. That wouldn’t guarantee success for 2017, either.”
For what it’s worth, Hart says he had unproductive conversations with “six to eight” teams about Justin Upton. The 27-year-old is due to become a free agent after next season and figures to be too expensive to keep long-term, so it would be a surprise if he doesn’t get dealt this offseason. As for the other Upton, well, it looks like the Braves are stuck with him.
Ken Rosenthal reports that, over the summer, the Braves and Astros discussed a trade involving Evan Gattis for a package that could include Dexter Fowler and either a pitcher or catcher Carlos Corporan. But, though the talks “had legs,” they didn’t result in anything because the Braves had one request to go along with it:
The Astros first began targeting Evan Gattis last summer. And when they asked about Gattis again early in the offseason, the Braves came back with an interesting response, according to major-league sources:
Maybe, if you take B.J. Upton, too.
And the $46.5 million he is owed. The Astros understandably balked, but Rosenthal says that they are still interested in Gattis, so perhaps everyone can revisit this again soon.
In other news, the Braves sent me an email with Cyber Monday offers for their team store yesterday. I was gonna get a sweet Freddie Freeman shirsey at 25% off, but they insisted I take a B.J. Upton one at full price too . . .