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Braves eye Upton as potential center field option

The SportsXchange

Unwilling to just wait for Michael Bourn, the Atlanta Braves made an all-out push for another free agent, B.J. Upton, as a potential replacement in center field.

Upton isn't a leadoff man, but he is a right-handed hitter, which would better balance the lineup. He has home run power as well as speed. Best yet, he is nearly two years younger than Bourn.

Both are looking for five-year deals worth in the neighborhood of at least $75 million. At that kind of price tag, Upton may be a better value for the Braves.

Upton, who earlier visited the Philadelphia Phillies, met at Turner Field with Braves general manager Frank Wren, manager Fredi Gonzalez and others, including former manager Bobby Cox, and the session reportedly went well.

Upton tweeted the night of his Atlanta visit, "I'm really blown away by the love other cities are showing me right now. Can't wait to see how this pans out."

Philadelphia, with more money to spend, may be in a position to outbid the Braves, who could also lose Bourn to a NL East rival, the Washington Nationals.

Wren potentially needs to fill two outfield spots, and he is exploring trade options as well as free agency.

"This time of year, you've got a lot of lines in the water," he said. "You're not sure which fish you're going to catch, so you have to make sure that you have enough lines out there that you catch a fish."

Bourn, represented by Scott Boras, tailed off at the plate in the second half of last season, but he still hit .274 with 42 stolen bases. He turns 30 on Dec. 27.

Upton, 28, hit a career-high 28 homers for Tampa Bay last season and stole 31 bases while posting a .246 average. Upton, who is presented by Larry Reynolds, struck out 169 times in 2012. Bourn had 155 strikeouts.
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