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

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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.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.