Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke with two rival executives who say “they smell a rat” in the Phillies’ pursuit of free-agent center fielder B.J. Upton.
The executives believe that to gain some leverage in going after Upton this offseason, Ruben Amaro Jr. fired their hitting coach and replaced him with Steve Henderson, the Rays’ hitting coach from 2006 to ’09, to fill the same role for the Phillies. Henderson has a very close relationship with B.J. Upton.
Also, Bart Braun, previously a special assignment scout with the Rays, joined the Phillies last month as a special assistant to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. Braun also has a cordial relationship with the talented centerfielder.
Both those moves did not go unnoticed by the Upton camp, and in the words of one player agent, “there are no coincidences in baseball.”
Amaro Jr. denies that it was part of some plot and said that “nothing unusual is afoot”. But did acknowledge his primary need this offseason will include a center fielder, a corner outfielder, a third baseman and bullpen help.
In the same article, Rosenthal points out that at least one GM believes that Upton will get more attention on the market than Michael Bourn, pointing out that Upton, 28, is nearly two years younger and hits for more power.
Bourn is perceived as the superior on-base threat, but his career .339 OBP is not much higher than Upton’s .336.
While the Mets could certainly use either of these two talents, it’s well documented that they have about $10 million to fill ten roster spots this offseason.