B.J. Upton is one of the better free agents on the market this year, and has been expected to sign this week for a few days now. In one of the less mysterious pursuits of the early offseason, most had him down to the Braves and the Phillies by yesterday, and it sounds like today the Braves sealed the deal.

Various reports have the numbers at five years and $70 to $75 million, with a possible sixth year option. Upton has already changed his avatar on Twitter to a Braves logo, so I don’t think this is one those “confirmed deal! er, I mean, wait” kind of situations. The numbers might change slightly when they are finally announced, but that’s the ballpark.

In the end, Upton was never legitimately connected to the Cubs, however connectable he might have been. In the Cubs’ eyes, perhaps, the marks in favor of Upton – his age (28), his athleticism, his increasing power, and his overall upside – were outweighed by the downside risk – some of his numbers trending downward, his elevated K-rate, and his contract demands.

But, given the increasingly rare 28-year-old free agent who can fill a position of need without hampering the organization long-term, I’m just a touch salty to not have seen the Cubs even involved, particularly at a really digestible price. Upton has been averaging a 4.0 WAR since he moved to center field in 2007, and, with the price of a win expected to be right around $5.5 million, you can see how he’s very likely to be worth his contract. Had the Cubs considered Upton, they could have accommodated Brett Jackson (if he becomes ready) by moving one or the other into a corner position, and shipping out Alfonso Soriano or David DeJesus. Jorge Soler and Albert Almora are still years away.

Don’t mistake me: I’m not angry, and I can understand the reticence to commit to such a tricky player like Upton. Let’s hope the Cubs did some serious due diligence.

  • Jeremy

    The Cubs should have been in on him. That’s such a good contract for a 3-4 win player and it would have filled a huge hole both long and short term.

  • Spencer

    I’ll take Michael Bourn, please.

    • Rcleven

      Doesn’t have bat of Upton but I’m right there with you.
      A Cub fan can always dream.

    • Kubphan82

      I’ll take Pagan… Seriously there are not many Cubs retreads that I would take and he is one…

    • TC

      the track record on guys like Bourn after their age-30 season isn’t very good. I’ll send you a link of a FG article on twitter if i can find it

  • Brad

    75 mil 5 years? No way. 3 year 45 mil deal now we are talking. Flip him in 2015 when almora and soler are to come up.

  • Spriggs

    Borderline, but sounds like a good deal. Since he is really the only free agent OF’er I wanted, I’m bummed.

  • RockyMtnCubzFan

    Ya Chris what you said sounds very possible also…….Like I have always said Selig is very hard to figure out.

    as far as the Upton signing goes The Cubs should have locked him up but atleast when I move in early next year I will be able to see him play in person

  • cheryl

    Does this send the message tat there won’t be any major signings or multi-year contracts?

    • Rcleven

      Not at all. Just doesn’t fit the Cubs objectives at this time at this price for this player.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Indeed, it says no more about the Cubs than it says about the other 28 teams that did not sign BJ. Indeed, if you are a Phils fan, then what this really means is that Amaro Jr. “blew it” and failed to “get it done,” because the baseball universe really is the Phillies and everyone else, right?

        At any rate, I’m betting that this is the Chone Figgins signing of 2012/13. Figgins was not even showing any warning signs before he fell off the cliff: BJ has shown major ones the three years.

        • hansman1982

          Or Carl Crawford or jayson werth

  • RockyMtnCubzFan

    Thats the impression I got from it,but each reads it there own way.

  • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

    Upton is a guy that would have been chewed up by the likes of Rosenbloom, Sullivan et al. Seems aloof, physically talented, player of color who strikes out too much. A player who will always be perceived as underachieving.

    This is a market value deal for a guy whose value is largely underrated. Defense, baserunning, plate discipline (at least until 2012). The kind of skills the Chicago media would constantly ignore. Pardon the rant, but this signing was never going to happen (probably for good reason).

    • Boogens

      Do you really think that the acceptance of Upton by the Chicago media had anything to do with this?

      • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

        I think that anytime an organization is committing to a player who has had discipline problems and there exists a perception of Upton as a lazy player who doesn’t get the most of his skills.

        The organization better consider how this will be perceived by a local media that has a tendency to fixate on behavior issues of players. I understand that in this corner of the internet, the mainstream media might not have power, but for average sports fan, those beat guys hold sway over the perception of players. Especially when they are hitting .240.

    • Mick

      People of color? Chewed up by the likes of Rosenbloom and Sullivan? The kind of skills Chicago media would constantly ignore? What are you talking about?

      • TC

        Well, dw8 (unfortunately) has a really good point, despite the fact that it doesn’t really affect why the Cubs didn’t sign him. More than a few members of the Chicago media have, what seems to me, some sort of prejudice against non-white players. Think of all the Cubs players from the past decade or so who have received a ton of/inordinate amounts of criticism/constant harping from the city’s writers. How many of them were white? I can’t think of any. I think of Big Z, Starlin, Aramis, Alfonso (I just named, over last decade or so, the Cubs’ best pitcher, two of their three best hitters, and one of their best young talents in a long time, by the way). All of these guys were/are great ballplayers, but the narrative of their time here was filled with a lot of criticism, with occasional praise.

        Some of this is because guys like Rosenbloom are the worst kind of hacks to ever inexplicably stumble backwards into a columnist position, but over-the-top criticism of non-white players is a recurring theme in the Chicago media scene

        • Mick

          I don’t live in Chicago and don’t subscribe to their papers but by that list of players you mentioned it seems to me there was good enough reason to be critical. Was Milton Bradley also a victim to these unwarranted critiques?

          • Lou

            No, he wasn’t because right after he signed CSN Chicago had him on a tv sports program. The panel was respectful of his intentions to “work on” his anger issues. So, I would say that, but THAT SAID, ARam and Soriano have had to take it on the chin, so to speak, multiple times with the fanbase and media.

          • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

            All that I’m saying is that the above messages were reason enough for the Cubs to stay away from Upton.

            Before June of 2012 you would have seen this narrative.
            Upton, signed to be one of the cornerstones of the new rebuilt Cubs is only hitting .260 with 16 RBI. He is striking out a ton and at least three times not hustled down the line on grounders to the left side. He’s already a waste of 75 million dollars.

            • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

              ugh 2013

          • TC

            Bradley claims that a lot of bleacher bums repeatedly shouted the n-word at him game after game, and honestly…I’d believe that. there’s a lot of bad in a crowd of rich, drunk, white college kids.

            More importantly, though, I think you’re missing my point. Its not that the criticism was never warranted, but its that it’s all you ever heard about those players.

            Aramis Ramirez is the second best 3B in organizational history, mashed all the damn time (except when he was injured), and took a pay cut to stay with the Cubs. Yet, all we heard were articles trashing his “lack of hustle” (which is such a horseshit thing to be angry at a professional ballplayer to begin with).

            Big Z, like it or not, is the best pitcher the Cubs have had since Maddux, and is probably top-10 in the franchise’s very long history. Such things were rarely brought up while he was with the team. Even when he had great years the local media wrote nothing other than him being a hot-head (which like, sure, of course he was, but the great work on the field should overtake all of that in importance. also, the “angry, firey asshole player” is a tried-and-true stereotype in sports almost exclusively applied to Latino players. I’ll try to find the deadspin article about it.)

            Alfonso Soriano, despite having had some great years with the Cubs, was dogged by the media constantly up until this year. He had his legs robbed of him his first year here, and wasn’t ever really the same player afterwords. And he sucked, hard, from 2009-2011. But the story was often less about “man this is a horrible contract, this guy is really bad now” and more about “he doesn’t look like he’s trying! what an asshole!” which is particularly unfortunate for him, because it’s very hard to look like you’re hustling when your legs are constantly broken. Some of this criticism was even leveled against him in spring training games, as if he should go risk three months of injury stretching a single into a double on March 7th.

            And Castro. Sure, he’s had some really boneheaded plays, but most of them came when he was 20 years old. He has legitimate focus issues, but they’re starting to fade away. Im just worried that he develops into a 5-win player and the narrative on him is still that he’s always out in lala land, which, given the precedence, seems likely.

            (also, these were just the players off the top of my head. i’ll try to think of more examples if need be)

            • Boogens

              There’s so much in here that’s just shot-gunned out there without much thought that I’m questioning whether or not to even respond.

              Anyway, the “there’s a lot of bad in a crowd of rich, drunk, white college kids” comment qualifies you for a “who ya crappin'” nomination. Complete sterotype and it makes you a hypocrite. Even if it was true, what does it have to do with the original comment re: the media?

              So what if Ramirez and Big Z rate highly in the Cubs’ all-time lists? Each of them has/had significant flaws in their games or characters that led to any criticism they received. Demonstrate to me how that criticism was racially motivated to prove your point. The absence of criticism to “white” players demonstrates nothing. Chicago reveres great players. We don’t just revere great “white” players.

              • TC

                As far as that first part goes, that was in direct response to your comment on Milton Bradley and why he claims his time here was horrible. And I didn’t mean it in a stereotypical way, I’ve been in those bleachers myself and the n-word gets thrown around at players. Its just something that happens, and the only reason I brought it up at all was to explain a bit why Milton was so unbelievably unhappy here.

                The problem is that the Cubs haven’t had a great white player in that same time period to compare against in this same time frame. Chicago, by the way, *does* revere white players. The love for guys like Theriot, Fontenot, DeRosa, Kerry Wood, Tony Campana is immense (and only justified in 1.5 of the cases mentioned), despite the glaring holes in each of their games.

                By the way, I’ll have concrete sources on this stuff for you sometime late tonight/tomorrow afternoon if you’re still around then

                • Boogens

                  Not that it matters much but I wasn’t the one that brought up the Milton Bradley saga as an example. Most likely those ugly things really were said to him but that still has nothing to do with the comments about Chicago media bias against non-white players. I don’t excuse the hate and I also don’t believe it’s respresentative of how Chicago fans feel about their players. These are the same bleacher fans that adored Andre Dawson and Sammy Sosa (before he self-destructed).

                  You mentioned that your comment about white college kids wasn’t intended to be stereotypical but I don’t know how else it can be construed.

                  I agree with your comment that there are white Cubs players that get a lot of love despite not being very productive. I would add that it’s not just limited to white players, though. We love our over-achievers, scrappy players, and try-hard fat guys regardless of their ethnicity.

                  My intention is not to attack you but to make sure that you can provide examples that backup such a strong claim. Racism is repugnant and it’s hard for me to just accept such a sweeping and broad statement without challenging it.

        • Boogens

          Each one of the players you mentioned has had situations arise where they did receive criticism. IMO the comment “non-white” implies that the criticism is racially motivated. In order for this to be accurate then cite an example or two of a comparable “white” player that has made similar mistakes/lapses/etc. that didn’t get roasted by the same media. Bottom line, is it really a racial thing or just that the people that were listed all did dumb things and they happen to be “non-white”?

          • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

            How are we to give you an example of a white player not receiving criticism?

            • Boogens

              Then how did you come to that conclusion if you don’t have any examples?

              • TC

                Here’s a good start, a study by The Atlantic on the subject


                Its a prevalent thing. And it would be very, very difficult to give specific examples of white players not getting the same kind of criticism. Its more of a noticing common trends over the years type thing

                • Boogens

                  That’s not what we’ve been debating. The comment made was that the CHICAGO media was biased against non-white players. I don’t agree and asked for specific examples where comparable white players were given a pass for the same mistakes or lapses. None have been given so far.

                  Whether or not the premise of the article you provided is accurate, it doesn’t relate to the statement made that the CHICAGO media is biased.

                  • TC

                    hey man, it’s really difficult to rummage through 50 pages of google searches for articles you have in mind from four years ago while keeping up with the comments section, especially on what amounts to 56k modem speed internet connection (frikken comcast), so a lot of these types of arguments are going to be anecdotal in nature, unless you want to continue this argument, say, at midnight when I’ve returned with specific articles

                    • Boogens

                      Hey TC, my perspective is that when someone makes such a strong statement like that, especially one that involves racial bias, it shouldn’t be necessary to do any Google research to back it up. The examples should be easy to come up with. If it’s not something that’s easily recalled or obvious then it proves my point.

          • Lovable idiots

            Ian Stewart?

            • DarthHater

              Jay Cutler. Nuff said.

    • TC

      dw8, unrelated question:

      I see your name redirects to The New Enthusiast. Do you write there, or do you simply love Carson Cistulli more than the average Cistulli Enthusiast?

      • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

        Yeah, I’m Woytek over there.

        • TC

          badass, i enjoy all of you guys’ work

          • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

            That puts you in very exclusive company, my friend. Enjoying all that stuff, I mean.

  • David

    Michael bourn please. We need a center fielder, if we arent going to use campana, bourn is a perfect fit, as a leadoff hitter and in the outfield. Him, in front of dejesus, castro, rizzo, and soriano would be monstrous.

  • JR

    Braves got him at a solid price. But considering the Cubs suck what would it have took for them to sign to sign him? Probably a good amount more than he went for…

  • RockyMtnCubzFan

    Bourne is not going to happen……..I would love it also but he wants more then Upton wanted

  • Ben

    Seems like a fair deal for both. I too hope the Cubs were in on him. Isn’t he what we hope BJax becomes (and Upton is a better fielder and baserunner). But a low average, high power (for CF), decent walk hitter?

  • Lovable idiots

    5 years and 75 million seems kinda fair for his overall numbers. The Braves have a center fielder while the Cubs keep looking for bargains. How many years away are the Baby Cubbies and do it really matter?

    What are the Cubs waiting for :A goose that lays a golden egg. A third baseman ? 4-5-6 Starting pitcher slots? Perhaps a Catcher? solid middle relief pitching from the left and right?

    Opps I forgot those are what good General Manager would find beginning his second season cause he did not find any in the first year. (forgot about 37 year old Camp ,youth movement my azz)

    Have fun with the rebuild Midwest Chicago Marlins!

    • Boogens

      Have fun with “Hooked on Phonics”.

  • hardtop

    i love how we’re to a point where we legitimize rumors with twitter logos!
    it’s not my intent to criticize you for doing so, Brett (no harm in using the evidence you have etc. etc.)
    … im just sayin’

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Well, it’s his account, so it’s kind of like when Maholm tweeted he had signed with the Cubs. About as legit as it gets.

      • hardtop

        no doubt its legit. seriously dude, good detective work by you.

        too legit to twit

      • DocPeterWimsey

        And clearly yet another embarrassing lapse by Jed & Theo, showing their lack of professionalism by letting people leak these important pieces of information, right? This is as bad as when the let the networks call Ohio early during the elections…..


  • TC

    Also at that fangraphs link, Uptons swing% on pitches outside the zone since 2008 (h/t @hitthecutoff on twitter):

    2008: 15%
    2009: 19.6%
    2010: 25.3%
    2011: 27.2%
    2012: 32.7% (!)

    So there’s good reason to believe that his walk and k-rate struggles this year are not an aberration, or at the very least shouldn’t be expected to rebound strongly. I like BJ Upton myself, but eroding obp skills are a very troubling sign for a guy who is a true talent .240 or so hitter, and he could quickly fade into mediocrity. The increased power in 2012 was nice to see, but at the cost of a sub-.300 OBP, I don’t think it’s all that desirable.

    I’m a bit conflicted about him, but I think it’s better to have not signed him for that kind of money

    • terencem

      Came here to post about that swing %. He’s a man living on the edge.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I follow the Sox pretty closely, and they play the Rays 15+ times a year. The Sox announcers have noted that over the last few seasons, there has been a trend towards BJ starting his swing earlier and earlier. This probably explains his increased power, but it also explains his drastic decrease in walks while keeping his (always) high K rate.

      In addition, Upton’s range stats in CF dropped hugely 3 years ago, and they’ve never recovered.

      In other words, it’s almost like Upton went from 25 to 35 over three years! This is why I’m glad the Cubs took a flier.

  • RockyMtnCubzFan

    Lets honestly look what their objectives are?…Lose just as bad as 12 so they can get the number 1 selection in the14 Draft?

    I honestly can’t see anyother outcome…

    What do you think about flipping Garza to KC and trying to get Meyers……..He is the best prospect in baseball and they want to flip him for a top notch pitcher….Garza and Sorriano(cubs cover his salary)

    • MaxM1908

      I really don’t think the organization is aiming at a number 1 pick in this offseason. I just don’t think their willing to reach deep into the pockets for big name free agents just yet. I think the Upton signing is fair, and I don’t think I would have been disappointed in the Cubs if they had agreed to that kind of a contract with him, but it really does look like he’d be on the decline by the time the Cubs are ready to compete, and we’d still be tied up with his contract. I’d much rather see us make an Upton-like signing in 2014 when more pieces are in place to justify the expenditure.

      As for your point about Meyers, I think it would be great to get him. But, like many others on here, I think it would take a heck of a lot more than a Soriano-Garza offer. We’d have to part with a few of our top-ten prospects in addition to Garza, and I think, even then, we’d probably not have enough to entice the Royals.

      • MaxM1908

        Damnit! They’re, not their! Where’s that edit button?

      • Lou

        But here’s the problem. Anyone would applaud Theo and Jed for the extension of Castro. That’s what every team is doing (see Rays, Chapter 1 “Evan Longoria”). So, will baseball becoming such a regional game and tv contracts like the Dodgers, Yanks, Rangers, and Angels, top talent will continue to be locked up in prime years of performance. Leading to—top heavy FA markets where demand exceeds supply. So, the Cubs will have to get into the game. It could be with someone where the fanbase, despite the Cubs having young talent at the time, says “Wow, Theo and Jed signed him–at THAT PRICE. Boy, I don’t know…”

        • MaxM1908

          I definitely understand the market theory of free agency in the coming years, but I highly doubt it will dry up to the point that we can’t find the pieces we need to compete when the time is right. Might we have to pay more than we like? Probably, but I’m willing to take that risk rather than locking up a declining player in today’s market.

          • hansman1982

            Ding ding ding. I’ve been hearing for years about how when we contend there won’t be any free agents left to sign. Will every year be like last year, no but you will still have players coming from teams that can’t afford them or players who want to hit free agency.


            • Lovable idiots

              You need to contend first – ding ding ding- then the Cubs need to actually sign a major free agent ding. Kinda hard habit to break when the owners have been fleecing Cub Fans. cause they will wait til next millennium

      • When The Music’s Over

        While it will never be explicitly stated, I am convinced losing on purpose is an integral, if not the foremost, part of the rebuilding process. Why? What has been explicitly stated as the core goal is to stockpile long term assets. Quickest way to do that when you won’t dish out free agent contracts and don’t have many short term flippable assets is through the draft. The best way to do that through the draft is through the highest possible picks.

        While they’re also trying to get some short term flippable assets to help aide the process, you’re going to have to put together a compelling argument for me to believe these signings are also designed to help win now. It would be counter productive to the core goal.

  • RockyMtnCubzFan

    You can’t keep trying to find a reason not to spend money.At some time ya have to go get Major League Talent that isn’t coming off a horrible year or an injury..Just signing prospects doesn’t get ya in the playoffs..All Players break down in their 30’s,that doesn’t mean you don’t sign them in their 20’s because of what they mite do..

  • RockyMtnCubzFan

    I don’t care what Color Upton is……..He is what the Cubs needed……A Top Notch CF

    • King Jeff

      I don’t think he’s anywhere near “top notch”, but I agree that he would have been a nice addition, and even at his age at the end of the five year deal, 15 million a year doesn’t seem so bad. I just wonder how much more money it would have taken to get him to sign with the Cubs.

  • Mick

    What does this signing mean? Will the Braves keep searching for a CF, LF, leadoff hitter or middle of the order bat? I was holding out hope the Braves would come calling late in the winter for Soriano to play LF and bat in the middle of their lineup.

  • Dustin

    I would love to have Bourn but no way the Cubs will sign Bourn if they weren’t willing to pay Upton the 75 million. People expect Bourn to get close to 100 million.

  • Dustin S

    The team has been pretty transparent that if the team makes the playoffs in 2013 it will be by pure luck. The only guys being signed now are just as hopeful trade chips. They probably won’t sign a bigger name this offseason unless they think that they’ll lose fan credibility if they effectively completely write off 2013.

    Don’t get me wrong, we need all the help we can get…and almost any signing would be an improvement, but I’m not that sad about missing out on a $75 .246 .298OBP 160K+ hitter. I guess I’m happy for him and his family that he was able to score like that though.

  • JeffD

    5yrs 75Mil – 15Mil AAV – Pretty much a 3-4 War player, so that’s basically 5Mil per win. I don’t know I guess that’s about right. Although your depending a lot on his 20+ power and 20+ steals, since it doesn’t look like he’ll hit for much average. UZR suggests he’s not a plus defender either.

  • hansman1982

    If he signed for the braves at 5/75 that means probably 5/80-85 for the cubs to sign him to lure him away from a team that will contend next year.

    Two way street folks. Cubs have to want him and he has to want to choose the cubs over the braves (and any potential pull the Atlanta “scene” has on him) in order for us to sign him at 5/75

    • Lovable idiots

      Gotta fill those holes on the 25 man roster I am sure 99.99 percent of Cub fans are delighted that front office can draft and develop players from the draft The game has changed, teams are holding onto its own superstars early, by giving them more dollars and years in contracts at less service time . So the Cubs have to rely on its front office to produce a winning team. Do they want to put a good product on the field for its fans. My understanding is that ownership believes that Cubs fan base will fill the seats even when the Cubs lose, therefore their is no urgency to field a team to compete in the next 3 to 5 years and thus saving millions upon tens millions on salaries each year . For the Cubs that almost borders on theft for its fans.

  • Rizzofanclub

    I would hate the cubs signing Upton if he was 32, but he is 28. C’mon people even if the cubs had to go 5 yr 80 million it would not be a bad signing. Soriano was still stealing bases and hitting hr’s into his 30’s. Soriano is a perfect example of Upton and when he was 32 Soriano had 19 stolen bases. Not to mention to everyone if the cubs were wanting to actually flip some guys with value why not flip Upton at the deadline and pay one year of his contract and get two top 100 prospects. Brett/anyone that wants to answer me do you have any guesses who will play the final outfield spot for the cubs next year?

  • RockyMtnCubzFan

    So I must admit I never heard any racist comments directed at bradley the few games I went their,but I did hear people yell that he sucked alot…….

    Yes the Cubs FO is trying to lose on purpose but they are trying to do it sneakingly because of the Deal with the Players Union to spend a minimum on players….

    The Players Union is going to make a hefty payday on the penalty put on the Marlins if they don’t reach that quota by April 1st

  • Believe in 2015

    What’s up with all the trolls on BN now? Looks like you made it big time Brett. haha

  • Fastball

    I think BJ probably wanted to stay in the south. He and Justin were Braves fans growing up. Most of the kids in Va. Beach are for the reason the Braves are the only real southern states team in the So. East. We didn’t acknowledge the Marlins or Rays when I lived there. The Braves have scouts who live down at the beach. He probably felt like the southern lifestyle suited him more. He is a good kid and I never saw him being lazy growing up. I would have to think ATL just suited him a lot more and it’s closer to home.

  • Fastball

    Wow… how in the world did a BJ Upton conversation get to Milton Bradley? There is a definite contrast in those two. Bradley made Big Z look like a Choir Boy.

    • King Jeff

      I think that there was a suggestion that Upton didn’t sign with the Cubs because Chicago media didn’t like him, or would hold a grudge against him when he struggled, which turned into the Chicago media being racist, to the fans being racist. I’m sure there is some of that going on, as we all know, there are morons every where.

      • MichiganGoat

        So his agent is Milton Bradley?

  • Lovable idiots

    Cubs new Motto : Why wait til next year ! We will rebuild within a millennium!

  • Lovable idiots

    Done good nite