Earlier this week, the Braves unceremoniously released second baseman Dan Uggla, who has been worth -0.2 WAR in the past two seasons. Now, the Braves' front office has unperforming center fielder B.J. Upton in their crosshairs. And according to Peter Gammons, they really want him gone.
Gm post-Uggla:"Braves desperate to get someone to take BJ Upton at almost any cost."— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 19, 2014
Would a trade for Upton make sense for the Tigers?
WHY THIS MAKES SENSE
Upton was an extremely valuable asset when he played for the Tampa Bay Rays, totaling 22.0 WAR in eight seasons. While he doesn't hit for average -- he hasn't hit above .250 since 2008 -- he makes up for it with a stellar 10.3 percent career walk rate and plenty of extra base power. He has three 20 homer seasons and six seasons with 25 doubles or more. He also has plenty of speed, swiping at least 30 bases every year from 2008 to 2012.
Defensive metrics cannot agree on what type of fielder Upton is, so the easy guess is to call him about league average. He has been worth -38 defensive runs saved in his career, but has a 19.9 UZR and has totaled 500 out-of-zone plays since 2007, fifth-best in baseball. With Austin Jackson only under contract for one more season, Upton would provide some insurance if the Tigers are unable to work out a long-term extension.
WHY THIS DOESN'T MAKE SENSE
The same reason why the Braves are so keen on getting rid of him: Upton has played some awful baseball in the past two years. He is hitting just .199/.272/.315 with 16 home runs in 834 plate appearances since moving to Atlanta. His strikeout rate, which was already high in Tampa, has risen above 30 percent in each of the past two seasons. He has been better in 2014, but still owns a 73 wRC+. For reference, Don Kelly and Bryan Holaday are at 79 and 78 this season, respectively.
Then, there's the contract. The Braves gave Upton a $75 million contract through the 2017 season. While he will only be 32 when the deal expires, it seems that this is already a massive overpay. Plus, the deal is backloaded, so Upton is still due nearly $55 million (including this year's pro-rated salary). Considering he has been worth -0.3 WAR since joining the Braves, it's tough to see him suddenly turning things around in a different city.
It doesn't really make sense for the Tigers to pick up Upton's awful contract, especially with so many arbitration raises and extensions on the horizon. But remember, we're the site that told you that the Tigers would not trade Prince Fielder.