No B.J. Upton for Rays, Ian Desmond for Nationals tonight

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Hunter Pence isn’t playing, but that seems well explained.  B.J. Upton’s absence from Tampa Bay’s lineup for the second time in four games, on the other hand, could and probably should be taken that a deal is close.

Also notable: there’s no Ian Desmond in the lineup for the Nationals tonight.  Washington has long been considered a likely destination for Upton, and the Rays may well want a shortstop in return after Reid Brignac’s spectacular flameout this year.

You can bet we’ll be keeping an eye on things.

7:50 p.m. EDT update: Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times is hearing that there’s no deal currently in place for Upton.  That doesn’t mean something isn’t close.

8:20 p.m. EDT update: Upton said he was told by Maddon it was just a day off and that “there’s nothing going on.”  Upton has been slumping, but it’s still very odd to see him getting a second day off in four days, particularly since there’s no disciplinary reason for the move.