However, the former Tampa Bay Ray came at a steep cost as Atlanta signed him to a five year, $75 million deal - the richest free agent signing in franchise history.
Through the first part of the season, Upton is batting .153 with only three home runs and 42 strikeouts. Yes, 42 strikeouts! Known for being a threat with his speed, he has three stolen bases but he’s also been caught stealing three times. It’s no wonder he currently sports a -0.6 WAR.
With his lack of production, some fans have started to ask if it’s time to put B.J. Upton on the bench. In short - no, it isn’t.
Similar to the situation with Dan Uggla over the past couple years, the Braves simply have too much invested in Upton to not play him. You can’t commit to a player for $75 million over the next five years and then send him to the bench after the first month of the season. He’s been disappointing but the organization is counting on him being an important piece of the future for more than just this season.
He’s also always been known as a streaky player. This has been one of the worst slumps of his career but it’s not like he hasn’t gone through slumps before. Fredi Gonzalez must do what he can to help Upton’s confidence and count on him to eventually break out of his slump and get hot. And unlike recent years, Atlanta has enough offensive firepower to be able to withstand a cold slump by Upton. Hopefully, he’ll heat up later in the season when the offense really needs it.
Until then, keep sending him out there so he can work through his struggles.
Photo by Keith Allison.
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