After reaching a two-year contract with backup catcher Gerald Laird earlier today, the Braves are staying busy.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that the Braves hosted free agent outfielder B.J. Upton this afternoon at Turner Field. Both general manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez were on hand for the meeting.
It’s not clear whether a contract offer was made today, but Bowman writes that the Braves appear to regard Upton “as the most attractive outfielder available on the free agent market.” This would seem to indicate that they prefer him over fellow free agent Michael Bourn, who enjoyed a career-year with the Braves in 2012, but is two years older. They should have plenty of competition for Upton, though, as the Phillies, Nationals and Rangers have also been mentioned as possible fits.
Upton, 28, batted .246/.298/.454 with a .752 OPS this season. He has amassed at least 18 home runs and 31 stolen bases in each of the last three seasons.
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.