B.J. Upton Will Be One Hot Commodity This Offseason, But Probably Out Of Mets Price Range

B.J Upton is going to be one busy and popular player this winter. The enigmatic former #2 overall pick in the 2002 draft has done some impressive things in his career, but most view his career as disappointing when compared to his incredible all-around talent and tools.

“He’s in the top 10 of center fielders in the game,” an American League executive said. “That’s pretty good. But people were probably expecting him to be in the top three.”

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick writes:

Upton’s stats have him mingling in impressive company. With his 100th home run, he joined Rickey Henderson, Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds, Cesar Cedeno, Eric Davis, Lloyd Moseby and Hanley Ramirez as one of eight players to collect 100 homers and 200 stolen bases before age 28. Since 2007, Ramirez ranks first in the majors with four 20-homer, 20-steal seasons. Upton,Curtis Granderson, Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, Chris Young and Brandon Phillips each have three.

ESPN.com surveyed four MLB executives about Upton’s free-agent outlook, and their estimates ran the gamut. A National League general manager predicted that Upton will sign a three-year, $27 million deal. Other executives were more generous, with estimates ranging from four years and $50 million to five years and $70 million. The Rangers, Nationals, Phillies, Braves, Red Sox, Yankees, Reds, Giants and Cubs are among the teams that could be searching for outfield help this offseason, and there’s no telling how spirited the bidding might get.

Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, says every team in the National League East could pursue Rays’ outfielder B.J. Upton this winter. Rosenthal believes that of the five teams, he will heavily pursued by the Marlins in particular.

No matter how you view him, Upton is infinitely better than anyone the Mets have on their major league squad or in the first four leaves of their system.

At 27, Upton has a career slash of .256/.337/.420 with 231 stolen bases, 527 runs scored, 113 home runs and 437 RBI. Some say the best is yet to come, while others say he peaked at 22 years old. This season he’s connected for 23 home runs while stealing 30 bases and it’s that blend of power and speed that makes Upton so desirable.

His manager Joe Maddon disagrees with what Upton’s detractors say.

“I’ve never seen him cower to a big moment,” Maddon said. “This guy has taken lot of criticism, but he’s never come into my office and cried about it. I’ve seen him play in high-leverage moments, and they bring out the best in him.”

Maddon also adds that he has seen numerous signs of maturity in Upton and that he’s become a more proficient base stealer as his 83 percent success rate would attest. He raves about Upton’s defense as far as hitting cutoff men, throwing to the right base, and calls his arm strength a major weapon. Upton’s 50 outfield assists rank first among center fielders since 2007.

Looking at those contract demands, even the three year deal seems out of the Mets price range right now, but I could certainly see him in a Phillies uniform next season.