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 Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.